With just over one month to go until the new driving test comes into force, research shows less than half of current drivers are convinced the changes are a good idea (46 per cent).
The driving test will alter as of 4th December 2017 to better reflect ‘real life’ driving. The changes include a longer section of ‘independent driving’, following a sat nav, and the removal of the U-Turn and reversing round a corner manoeuvres, which will be replaced by having to complete one of three possible reversing exercises, including parallel or bay parking.
Despite people’s misgivings, the research of almost 2,500 drivers (carried out by TLF nationally), which was conducted by pre-17 driving experts Young Driver, revealed the new additions are with good reason. One in three current drivers (30 per cent) admit they still struggle to reverse park into a bay, with a similar number (29 per cent) always choosing to drive in front first to avoid having to even try.
Young Driver, which provides driving tuition for 10-17 year olds in Vauxhall Corsas, will be changing elements of its lesson structure for pupils to include some of the new focus of the test. However, it’s not farewell to manoeuvres such as the three-point turn – given almost half (44 per cent) of drivers say they have performed a U-Turn in the past month, Young Driver will still continue to teach it to budding drivers.
According to the research, we’re also losing the ability to get ourselves from A to B without the help of an electronic device, proving including a sat nav in the test may be a good idea. One in 10 drivers (11 per cent) admit they follow their sat nav above what road signs might be telling them and it’s a strategy that has got one in four of us (25 per cent) lost on occasion. Although being able to use a sat nav is now considered essential, Young Driver will be reminding pupils that keeping safe on the roads includes being aware of where you are and how to adapt if situations change. One in five current drivers (20 per cent) admit to setting off on a journey with no idea of the route they need to take, leaving themselves entirely in the hands of technology. This figure rose to one in three under 24s (33 per cent), but dropped to one in seven over 55s (14 per cent).
Another new element of the test is having to answer ‘show me’ questions whilst driving – a good test of being able to assess whether it is safe to do something and then managing another activity whilst driving. These might include opening windows, putting on windscreen wipers or putting on lights. Combined with the increased level of independent driving, it is hoped this will give a better indication of how well the learner can cope with more realistic driving situations. One in four current drivers said they thought the hardest thing about driving is dealing with distractions, including passengers talking and external places of interest, rather than the mechanics of working the car.
Laura White, head of marketing at Young Driver, said: “We were intrigued to see what drivers thought of the upcoming changes and although some seem hesitant, given what they’re telling us about being a driver – how important sat nav has become, how hard it is to deal with distractions and how bad many of us are at reversing – it seems that the changes are actually very sensible.
“At Young Driver we’ve been working for eight years now to better educate youngsters behind the wheel, long before they can get on the road for real. Research shows that if they can become more practiced at the basics of driving before they turn 17 it makes them a safer driver – almost half as likely to have an accident straight after passing their test than their peers. Making the fundamental driving skills become second nature, so they become more ‘automatic’, leaving the driver better able to deal with distractions and be aware of other road users is key – as is spending as much time as possible with a qualified instructor. It sounds like many of us wish we’d had more chance to learn some of the basic manoeuvres better – reverse parking is always the issue!”
Young Driver uses dual control Vauxhall Corsas and fully qualified instructors to teach 10-17 year olds how to drive at over 50 venues across the UK. More than 500,000 lessons have now been given. Five to 10 year olds can also learn in the specially created Firefly electric car. For more information go to www.youngdriver.com.