The 4th December 2018 marked one year since the new driving test was introduced in the UK. The idea behind the changes was to make the driving test to more accurately simulate a real driving experience.
The changes included:
- 4 out of 5 tests require the use of a sat nav system while independently driving
- driving on a wider variety of roads
- increased independent driving time from 10 to 20 minutes
- changes to the 3 required reversing manoeuvres
Why was a new driving test introduced?
The changes were introduced for a number of reasons, most notably because:
- the majority of fatal collisions happen on high-speed roads (not including motorways) and the new format of driving test allowed more of these types f roads to be included on test routes
- more cars are being produced with built in sat navs and the use of portable devices is increasing all the time, therefore the safe use of these devices should be naturally included in the driving learning process.
- previously drivers felt that once they had passed their test it didn’t reflect accurately the lesson and test scenarios they had faced and so often felt nervous when driving independently. The new changes make the experience more realistic and familiar once the test is passed.
What impact has the new driving test had?
Research recently published by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency shows:
» 81% of newly qualified drivers believed the test better prepared them for driving on the UK’s roads.
» 86% also said that they used sat nav after passing their test for at least some of their journeys and therefore the practice made it a “more realistic scenario”.
» 44% practiced for 4 hours or more on country roads.
» 50% practiced for 4 hours or more on high-speed dual carriageways.
Has the new driving test made new drivers more confident?
Drivers who took part in the survey felt they were most confident that they were a safe driver and show the least confidence that they will not be involved in an accident in the next 12 months.
Has it really made a difference?
The new driving test seems to be having a positive impact on the UK’s new drivers but there still seems to be some way to go in giving new drivers the confidence to go it alone after the test has been passed. However, the road safety charity Brake reveals some startling statistics about young drivers.
The statistics show that:
» Young Drivers (17-24 years old) are at a much higher risk of crashing than older drivers.
» 17-19 year olds only make up 1.5% of UK licence holders but are involved in 9% of fatal and serious crashes where they are the driver.
» 1 in 4 18-24 year olds (23%) crash within 2 yers of passing their driving test.
» Drivers aged 16-19 are a third more likely to die in a crash than drivers aged 40-49.
What are the risk factors?
A combination of youth and inexperience puts younger drivers at high risk; specifically in the following areas:
- Over Confidence
- Poor assessment of hazards
- Prevalent risk-taking – speeding, driving under the influence of drink & drugs, not wearing seat belts, use of mobile phones, night driving, carrying of passengers, unsafe vehicles etc
Although the new elements of the driving test may be having a positive impact on some elements of road safety, there is still a long way to go to improve the overall safety on the UK’s roads.