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Test Routes

Real driving experience for learners

To help make the driving test more representative of real driving, the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) will no longer publish details of test routes, Road Safety Minister Mike Penning announced today.

Currently test routes used by each driving test centre are published online but this will stop when new routes are introduced at the beginning of October.  This change is being made to support the introduction of independent driving, which will allow candidates to demonstrate their ability to drive safely in more realistic driving situations rather than memorising a particular test route.

Mike Penning said: “We want new drivers to be able to drive safely and independently and learning to drive test routes by rote isn't the way to achieve this.   "Stopping the publication of test routes will help to make sure that the driving test better reflects realistic driving conditions and will give new drivers the skills and confidence they need to stay safe on the roads.”

DSA’s Chief Driving Examiner Trevor Wedge said: “Evidence shows that the biggest challenge newly qualified drivers face after passing their test is learning how to cope when they no longer have their instructor there to help and prompt them.”    “We want to make sure that new drivers and riders are ready to make their own decisions when driving alone; learning how to do that in preparation for their test should lead to better and safer drivers.”

To better assess whether a learner driver is ready to drive unsupervised, independent driving will be introduced into the test on 4 October 2010. Candidates will drive for about 10 minutes, without step-by-step direction from their examiner. This will involve either following a series of directions, following traffic signs, or a combination of both. To help candidates visualise the directions, the examiner may also show them a simple diagram. The remainder of the test is unchanged.  In January 2010, DSA published independent research showing that with careful route design, candidates were able to complete the independent driving tasks without any significant impact on pass rates. Additional research found widespread support for inclusion of independent driving in the practical test.