/ Motoring

The driving test should be even tougher

L-plate on blue car

The driving test is now much harder with the recent addition of an ‘independent driving’ section. But has this taken things far enough? Shouldn’t learners be required to practice on motorways and at night?

Anyone taking their driving test will now be required to successfully complete a 10-minute section of ‘independent driving’.

The examiner will ask candidates to navigate their way to a particular destination using road signs, without step-by-step help.

Although completing this task is not required to pass the test, it may prompt candidates to rack up the 16 standard driving faults that’ll result in a fail.

Independent driving essential for new drivers

While some learners may feel apprehensive about these changes to the L-test, I think the addition of independent driving is a good thing. After all, surely it’s precisely what all new drivers will be doing the moment they throw their L-plates away?

In fact, up to one in five new drivers have an accident in the first six months behind the wheel. And seven in ten report near misses. So this toughening of the L-test should be the beginning of some other much-needed changes.

Perhaps the whole test should be conducted as independent driving? And why not make it compulsory for learners to practise motorway, dual carriageway and night time driving, rather than leaving all of this to the voluntary Pass Plus scheme?

Drivers also need ‘refresher’ courses

And I don’t think the Driving Standards Agency should stop there. Having retaken my L-test alongside four other people for a Which? Car feature last summer, I realised just how easy it is for a person’s driving to get out-of-date.

I first took my test 26 years ago, and have been lucky enough to take some advanced driver training courses since then. But not all drivers have that advantage and this showed in the capabilities of the candidates retaking their test alongside me.

For instance, some had points deducted for old-fashioned driving techniques, such as using every single gear when changing up and down through the gearbox. While this wasn’t the main reason three of the five candidates failed, it certainly didn’t help.

So, while I wouldn’t want to put people through the stress of retaking their test (I was surprised at how nervous I was retaking mine) I do think it should be mandatory for all drivers to go on a refresher course every 10 years.

Do you think the driving test is tough enough? What driving requirements would you add?


I don’t think having a tougher test will make any real difference – It would only remove the most incompetent – It is easy enough to “bone up” for the test – The problem is the careless – inconsiderate – and lawless impatient driver –

Lets face it – we have over one MILLION uninsured drivers – removing those and their cars from the street would help a lot.

The we have those that want to remove Speed Cameras so they can go as fast as they like.

Then we have those wanting to remove traffic lights so they push through junctions as fast as possible ignoring road conditions.

Then we have those that think waiting one minute at a traffic light is too long.

No – You have got it wrong AGAIN!!


An addition.

Removal of licence for a year if you have two accidents in two years.with a retest.

Removal of licence for a year f you have two speeding tickets in two years.with a retest.

Removal of licence for a year if you contravene other traffic acts (except parking) in two years.with a retest.

More road surveillance with UNmarked traffic camera cars to catch more of those impatient inconsiderate and irresponsible car drivers I see every day when I drive my car.


I passed my driving test at 19 and then didn’t drive for the next ten years. It astounded me that after all that time, all I had to do was dust off my old driving licence, get in a car and drive. I hadn’t built up any driving experience after driving my test and was pretty-much a complete beginner again.

Luckily for all the other drivers on the roads, I was sensible and had some lessons! There should definitely be a compulsory refresher for people like me who haven’t been active drivers for a certain length of time.

I also agree that motorway driving should be part of the test. You spend ages learning about 3-point turns and clutch control, but when it comes to hammering down a motorway there’s no real tuition. I’ve always found that strange, it took me ages to gain confidence in motorway driving as it’s a completely different style of driving.



Your post made me smile.

My father passed his test in Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) during WWII. Tests were done at local Police Stations. My father reported to the nearest one and said he wanted to take a test. The desk sergeant looked out through the open door at the car parked outside. “Did you drive that car here, sir?”. “Yes”, my father replied. “You’ve passed” said the desk sergeant.

And that licence would still have been completely valid here in the UK, seventy years later.

Sensibly, my father took lessons and passed a UK driving test in 1960. He died in the 1990s.


I passed my motorcycle test at 16 – my car test at 17 – bought a car at 23 – got in and drove it without a problem. In fact drove it for 55 years without accident or insecurity .

But I have seen greater and greater numbers of bad drivers around – these are not learners – or new drivers – just bad divers on the road. I’m sure the vast majority of them would actually pass the test – then totally ignore the behaviour used to pass the test – just become bad drivers again – Nothing to do with the test – and unless the test included a very long psychiatric test will not do anything.to curb this tendency.

In all honesty – I found driving on motorways far easier than driving in heavy traffic – never had problems in my confidence – just problems with bad drivers – you know the ones that still speed – use mobile phone – retune their radios – turn round to chat with the back seat passenger.

All nothing to do with the test – but everything to do with common sense and obeying the Law!!!!!!!!!

I do think there should be a test for Long term migrants – not those on holiday – to ensure they know and obey ALL the differences between the two sets of traffic laws.

Sophie Gilbert says:
8 October 2010

The current driving test plainly isn’t tough enough, given how many bad drivers there are on the road, and I don’t see how 10 miserable minutes of “independent driving” during the test is going to prepare anyone for anything. I would also agree with Richard that punishment for bad driving is at the moment ridiculously mild. And I do wonder whether the minimum age at which you can drive shouldn’t be raised.


The driving test is not designed to *create* an expert driver – but to decide whether you are competent to drive and have read and ‘understood’ the highway code.
If you feel “lacking in confidence” about a part of road system – the answer is simple – go along to your local friendly driving school – explain your problem – and they would be happy to devise a few lessons to cover the problem.

It is your responsibility – not the government’ s- or your test centre responsibility – to be competent. The highway code gives all the instructions needed to use the UK highways properly..

Any test will not totally ensure that you will feel confident – experience gives you that confidence. Any form of longer test would require some form of long psychiatric sociological physiological test to be effective .

It is obvious too many drivers conveniently “forget” the highway code after passing the test – no test will stop that – Harsh punishments would.. I honestly felt the driving test was adequate to test my competence.


This is a test – as I have written two comments – neither appeared


We’re really sorry Richard. We’ve had a little glitch that’s been keeping comments from being approved. Hopefully all of yours are up now!