British learner drivers will have to prove their proficiency in operating satellite navigation systems if they are to pass their tests, under changes announced on Saturday to be enacted this year.
The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency, which runs the tests and approves instructors, said the shake up was aimed at keeping pace with modern driving and focusing on more-needed skills.
“It’s vital that the driving test keeps up to date with new vehicle technology and the areas where new drivers face the greatest risk once they’ve passed,” said DVSA chief executive Gareth Llewellyn.
The length of independent driving will be doubled to 20 minutes and manoeuvres such as reversing around a corner are being replaced with more common scenarios, such as squeezing into a parking bay.
Around half of all car drivers own a sat nav device and 70 percent of respondents to a public consultation supported the DVSA’s desire for drivers to be trained to use them safely.
Reducing the emphasis on slow-speed manoeuvres in quiet roads will better allow examiners to assess the ability of learners to drive safely in busier areas, where new drivers have the most crashes, the agency said.
“We have some of the safest roads in the world but we are always looking to make them safer,” said transport minister Andrew Jones.
“Ensuring the driving test is relevant in the 21st century, for example the introduction of sat navs, will go a long way towards doing this.”
British learner drivers have to pass a practical test and a theory test to get a driving licence. The minimum age for a car driving test is 17.
Learner drivers cannot go on motorways but a consultation on lifting the ban is under way.
The new driving test will be used from December 4.