Ok, calm down, the driving test hasn’t changed just yet. But 1,000 learner drivers have been invited to participate in a trial which has generated headlines – out with the three point turn and reversing around a corner. Instead, budding drivers could be asked to use a satellite navigation system and switch on the heated rear windscreen.
While any changes will be subject to a full public consultation, this proposed shake-up would be the biggest update to the driving test for almost two decades. The UK driving test was first introduced in 1935 and will celebrate its 80th anniversary next year. More than 46 million tests have been taken in that period, although the first time pass rate has fallen and less than 50% of tests taken in 2013/14 were passed.
We’re looking for your suggestions of what you think should be included or removed from the new driving test. Comment below or get in touch with us on social media. In the meantime, here are our five top tips to passing your driving test – current format or new…!
1. Steer before you gear. While it can be all too tempting to change gear half way round a roundabout or corner, it is far safer to keep both hands on the wheel and complete the steering manoeuvre before you think about upshifting. Instructors look for you to show that you are calm and in control. Crunching gears and swerving off course won’t help the situation!
2. TNT – or tyres and tarmac. When you are stopping in traffic, you should always leave enough space between yourself and the car in front in case of any unexpected challenges i.e. another car running into the back of you or the car in front breaking down. One way to check you have left enough room is to make sure you can see the rear tyres of the car in front, as well as some of the road.
3. MSM – or mirror, signal, manoeuvre. It’s an oldie but goodie. Although many instructors have replaced this with the longer MSPSL (mirror, signal, position, speed, look) pneumonic, it is important to keep things as simple as possible when undertaking your driving test – and, more importantly, taking to the roads as a qualified driver. Whichever approach you take, you should make it really obvious to the examiner that you are making the relevant checks every time you pull away, change direction or change speed.
4. Pre-preparation prevents poor performance. Understand how you will be marked and the difference between dangerous faults, serious faults and driving faults. The first two prompt an automatic fail, while you are allowed up to 15 driving faults and you can still pass – although this isn’t a challenge! It is also useful to get a feel for the routes the examiner is likely to take. Your instructor should be able to help you practice the local challenges.
5. Stay calm. We all suffer from nerves from time to time but it is important not to let them get the better of you out on the roads. You should be confident that you can pass when you put in for your test and don’t pile on the pressure by telling everyone the date. It should be a surprise when you announce you’ve passed. Some people recommend a banana before your test (they contain tryptophan which converts into serotonin, the happy hormone), while others use herbal remedies (be careful to read the instructions). However you approach it, be positive and remember that, if you fail, it is just another chance to get in some more practice!
Passing your driving test is the key to a great deal of freedom, as well as ensuring you’ll be the taxi service for friends and family for years to come! However, passing is only the first step on the journey to independence. For help choosing a car, take a look at our Smart Search which will help you find the right vehicle for your needs!