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Independent driving given the green light

Monday 27th September 2010

The DSA has announced that independent driving will be introduced into the driver test on 4 October.

Candidates in all main categories of test will be asked to spend around 10 minutes demonstrating their ability to drive safely without step-by-step directions from an examiner.

Mike Penning, road safety minister, said: “The independent driving assessment gives test candidates the chance to show they have the necessary skills to cope with the sort of traffic conditions they will face every day.

“Learning those skills from the very start of the driving process will help make new drivers safer.”

Currently examiners give directions throughout the test. But during the independent drive the candidate will have to follow traffic signs or a short series of verbal directions, or a combination of both. To help candidates understand where they are going, the examiners will also show them a diagram. Candidates can also ask for a reminder as they drive.

Trevor Wedge, DSA’s chief driving examiner, said: “The aim of independent driving is to assess the candidate’s ability to drive safely whilst making decisions independently. It’s not a test of navigation and candidates won’t be failed for going off route.

“The test is being improved to help produce safer drivers, but that does not mean it’s getting any harder. We know many instructors are already teaching independent driving.”

For further information, contact DSA on 0115 936 6135.

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It is designed to test the candidates ability to find and follow directional (and other) road signs so can be applied to any candidate, anywhere - there is no need to be familiar with the local area. No doubt some local familiarity will help but instructors already take their candidates round the most used test routes and areas anyway, they'll simply have to include some practice at this technique when they do so. Since being able to locate and follow route signs is an essential skill for any driver or rider, this is a good idea.
Honor Byford, North Yorkshire

This assumes the driver knows the location. I took my test in a town unknown to me. What then ?
Jim Mennie, Aberdeen