It’s been over a month since the introduction and implementation of the new driving test, which has promised to be more comparable to real driving conditions, and ‘designed to make sure new drivers have the skills they’ll need to help them through a lifetime of safe driving.’ However, despite the reassurances of the DVSA (Drivers and Vehicles Standards Agency), having your driving test is one of the most stressful and nerve-wracking experiences one will experience. Add a pinch of uncertainty and suddenly the new test seems that little bit more daunting. But as said, a month has passed, any kinks in the new test have been ironed out, and driving instructors and examiners are certainly getting into the flow of how the new test works. I recently took the new driving test, and was actually pleasantly surprised how easy and adaptable it was, it was nowhere near as hard as the newspapers had been making it out to be.
Test – Day
It’s always important to remember that the driving examiner wants you to pass almost as much as you yourself wants to pass, he’s just there to make sure you don’t do anything that is potentially dangerous to yourself or other road users. Plus, you are allowed to make 15 minor mistakes, which is pretty generous. If you make more than that can you honestly say that you are safe to drive on the roads by yourself?
Before you head on over to the test centre make sure you have got everything you need:
- photo card driving license,
- your theory test pass certificate,
- a car! If using your own car rather than your driving instructors, make sure the insurance allows driving tests to be conducted in the car,
- 2 ‘L-plates’
- a spare rear view mirror for the examiner.
Use whichever you feel more comfortable driving, but be aware of where all the switches and buttons are, so you don’t get caught out in the ‘show-me, tell-me’ questions. Some people recommend having a driving lesson before the test to go over everything you need, it depends on you as a person if you feel like you do need a last-minute lesson before your test, maybe you are not quite ready to be taking the test? After-all if you pass the test you never need a driving lesson again, you’re going solo into the world of motoring, where there will be no handy hints or tips or prompts.
The new driving test consists of a show me and a tell me question, these are pretty simple and a quick read through the DVSA website will tell you what questions to expect, so have a look through and make sure you can do them. After all, fail to prepare, prepare to fail. The tell-me questions may sound a bit more intimidating but remember you only need to tell the driving instructor what to do, not actually do it. So, a quick look in the car manual should tell you where to find the reservoirs under the bonnet or even the symbol for what they are.
The show me questions are very simple and are merely just the driving examiner checking that you know how to operate the features in the car you are driving, i.e. can you wash the windscreen and open your window, worse comes to worse and you don’t know your front demister from your rear demister, then the driving instructor will ask you to pull over and show you. You will get a minor for this but it is only 1 out of 15. Nothing to stress about here.
Off you go
Many of us are used to driving with a Satnav, whether it is built into the car or a portable one which plugs into the car. The new driving test incorporates the usage of Satnavs in the independent driving section of the test, but instead of getting directions from the examiner you get them from the Satnav. Plus, if you go the wrong direction it really doesn’t matter, if you’re asked to take the 1st exit at a roundabout but take the 3rd, nothing will happen, the Satnav will re-route, the test will continue, and you won’t even get a minor, unless you do something dangerous but that’s a given. It’s called independent driving for a reason, to see how you handle things on your own. The independent driving section of the driving test accounts for around 20 minutes out of the 40 minutes test, and can start at any point during the test.
Alongside the independent driving side of the test you also have to be able to perform a manoeuvre. You will have been taught how to do these by your driving instructors and will have had some experience with these manoeuvres when you have been driving with family. The manoeuvres are:
- parallel park,
- drive into a parking bay and reverse out (just like you would at a car-park) or visa-versa,
- and the most controversial manoeuvre, pull up on the opposite side of the road and reverse two car lengths.
Don’t worry these manoeuvres are not difficult, and a little bit of pre-test parking will make sure you know what to do. The test-centres usually have carparks for you to park and this is where the ‘parking in bays’ manoeuvres will be carried out, so why not arrive a little earlier for your test and practice parking in these bays? That way, if asked, there is a good chance you will perform the manoeuvres where you have just practiced.
When driving throughout your test it’s important to stick to the speed limits, don’t speed! But don’t drive slowly either, you will likely get a minor and your driving examiner may think you lack confidence – not good. If it’s a 60 do 60, or at least 55, and you’ll breeze through the test. Checking your mirrors is imperative to success. Forget 3 times throughout the test, and you won’t be ripping up those L-plates when the 40 minutes is up, it’s a major fail. We’ve all seen the person on their test stalling, don’t worry about this either, you won’t fail if you handle it correctly. Don’t panic and end up stalling again though, just remember what you were taught, and stay calm – everyone has been there at some stage of their driving life, so no one is judging.
Good luck and happy motoring – James.