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 Car feature last summer, I realised just how easy it is for a person’s driving to get out-of-date.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?