From 4 October 2010, learner drivers will be tested on independent
driving as part of the practical driving test.
During their test, candidates will have
to drive for about 10 minutes, either following a series of directions, following traffic signs, or a combination of both.
To help candidates understand where they’re going, the examiner may show them a
It doesn't matter if candidates don't remember every direction, or if
they go the wrong way - that can happen to the most experienced drivers.
Some newspapers have claimed that independent
driving would lead to a fall in the driving test pass rate. This claim is based on early research where conditions did not
reflect the eventual design of the new element of the test.
Subsequent trials with a larger
number of participants and more closely reflecting the conditions in the planned new test showed no significant fall in the
Length of driving tests and test fees
length of driving tests and test fees will not change when independent driving is introduced in October. Driving test fees
can be found at direct.gov.uk/drivingtestfees.
Categories of tests
of practical driving test will include around 10 minutes of independent driving.
driving instructor (ADI) qualifying tests, this will be in the part two (driving ability) test.
From October, car
test candidates (category B) will have to complete one reversing manoeuvre rather than two. The manoeuvre will be selected
at random by the examiner from:
in the road
- reversing around a corner
- reverse parking (either on the road, or into a bay)
In addition a controlled stop is carried out on every test (this means stopping
in a place specified by the examiner.) An emergency stop exercise will still be conducted on one in three tests.
Manoeuvres in all other categories of tests will not be changed. Candidates for the ADI part two (driving
ability) test will still have to complete all the manoeuvres.
DSA already has
procedures to identify special needs and disabilities when tests are booked online or over the phone. The examiner then knows
which type of special needs the candidate has so reasonable adjustment can be made. We are working with the British Dyslexia
Association as part of our process of ensuring that we make the necessary adjustments for candidates with dyslexia.
For independent driving this could be asking the candidate which method they prefer for the section - in other
words, following signs, or a series of directions (a maximum of three) which are supported by a diagram. In some cases this
will be shortened to just two directions.
DSA recognise there are many ways of developing
perfectly road-safe coping strategies in order to navigate from A to B and is satisfied that examiners will manage the situation
accordingly. Independent driving is a significant road safety addition to the practical driving test but will not prevent
candidates from holding a licence.
DSA is determined that no member of society should
suffer detriment due to any change we introduce.
People who don’t speak English
examiners are very experienced at dealing with candidates who speak little or no English and they’ll be able to manage
the situation accordingly.
For example, sometimes this will include writing place names
so it is clear to candidates where they are being asked to drive to. To help all candidates, when asked to follow a series
of verbal directions the examiner can show a diagram, so that they can picture the route they’ve been asked to take.
Just as currently, the candidate can have an interpreter along with them on their test
if they wish. Since 6 April 2010 ADIs have been able to act as an interpreter for their own pupils.
Routes, directions and sat navs
the candidate goes off-route during the independent driving section, the examiner will get the candidate back on route and
continue with the independent driving section wherever possible. The test won’t be terminated.
the candidate looks like taking a wrong turning, the examiner will control the situation as they do now and preferably step
in before the candidate goes off route. If that’s not possible, the examiner will help the candidate get back on route
as soon as possible by guiding them with normal directions.
Independent driving is not
a test of the candidate’s orientation skills. If the candidate goes off route, but does not commit a fault, there’s
nothing to assess. Any faults that did occur would be assessed under the circumstances at the time - as usual. There is no
change to assessment.
Download an example of an independent driving route diagram (PDF, 305Kb)
There will be times when, due to poor or obscured signage, the examiner may have to intervene.
If this happens the examiner would say, ‘There are no signs here. Just continue ahead please’ and then, ‘Now,
carry on following the signs to ……’
If the candidate asks for a reminder
of the directions, the examiner will be happy to confirm them. Driving independently means making your own decisions and,
just like when driving with friends, this includes deciding when it’s safe and appropriate to ask for confirmation on
where you’re going.
Independent driving is designed to test the learner’s
ability to drive unsupervised and make decisions without guidance and in unfamiliar contexts. DSA is therefore taking the
opportunity to review the appropriateness of current route publication practices.
independent driving section of the test is approximately 10 minutes when you will be asked to drive making your own decisions.
A sat nav gives directions in much the same way as the driver trainer, or the examiner, so it’s not appropriate to use
for independent driving.
Watch 'Independent driving in the driving test: what is it?' on YouTube
Guidance and paperwork
The DL25 driving test report form
will not be changed when independent driving is introduced, as there is no change to assessment.
sometimes refer to a document called the DT1. This contains internal operational guidance for driving examiners in the conduct
of driving tests. An updated version will be published on DSA’s corporate website at the beginning of October.