New driving test trial rolled out across the country

The revised practical driving exam has been rolled out across the country, with the first learner officially passing the new exam in Scotland.

Grant Ferguson from East Dunbartonshire in Scotland became the first person in the UK to toss out his L-plates on the new test, which has been designed to modernise the exam for the 21st century.

His local driving text centre in Bishopbriggs was chosen as one of the 20 test sites in the UK which will trialthe revised practical exam, which allows the use of sat-nav in place of road signs.

New exam trial now

The 17-year old’s examiner set up a route on the device for the first 20 minutes of the test, with Grant following the verbal instructions as part of the independent driving section.

He said: “I had been learning to drive for about a month when the opportunity came up to try out the new test. I felt like I was part of an important change.”

According to Grant, the sat-nav is about training drivers to make sure that they’re only listening for guidance and not staring at the screen or directions too often.

However, he says that he’ll “definitely be buying a sat-nav” now that he’s passed, as that’s what he knowns and it gives him more freedom to go where he wants on the fly.

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) estimates that around 1,000 learner drivers will take part in the revised test trial period, which is due to continue until the end of this year.

If the trial proves to be successful, the revised test will be rolled out in what will be the biggest shake-up of the driving test since the written theory exam was introduced in 1996.

Alongside the option to use a sat-nav, the new test will scrap manoeuvres like the three-point turn and reversing a corner, in favour of more commonplace actions like reversing out of a space.

“I’ve wanted to drive for a very long time,” Grant said. “I was a bit relieved that I didn’t have to do the reverse around the corner in the test.

“The test is meant to imitate what you’re going to be doing in real life such as reversing into a parking space at the shops.”

As well as that, learners will also be asked safety questions while on the move instead of at the start, and will also be asked to operate switches like screen heaters, the DVSA has said.

Three-point turn could get the axe

Drew Nicol, Grant’s driving instructor, said: “My driving school was one of the first to register for the trial. I think it’s a good idea and much more realistic.”

However, motoring groups have urged the DVSA to keep the three-point turn in the test, claiming that it can be essential to know if drivers accidentally get stuck down dead end roads.

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