REGIONAL STATISTICS AVAILABLE

DRIVERS CALL FOR FURTHER CHANGES TO THE NEW DRIVING TEST

TO ADDRESS POOR DRIVING HABITS

 

  • One in three drivers (33%) say the new changes to the driving test aren’t going far enough to improve road safety
  • Drivers believe motorway driving (73%) and night driving (66%) should be introduced
  • Eight in ten (80%) believe driving etiquette should be taught in order to eliminate middle lane hogging, tailgating and to stop people cutting in at the last moment
  • Driving instructors challenge the DVSA on safety of new test manoeuvres
  • Confused.com put the planned changes to the test in film with opinionated driving instructor.
  • The driving test pass rate has slowly risen over the last decade, from 43.3% in 2007 to 47.0% in 2016

Ahead of changes to the UK practical driving test set to be introduced on 4th December 2017, new research by Confused.com reveals a third of drivers (33%) believe that the changes do not go far enough to address poor and dangerous driving habits on UK roads. 

By making the driving test more realistic, the Government hopes to reduce the number of people killed and seriously injured. A turn in the road (known as a three-point turn) and reversing around a corner are being ditched in favour of manoeuvres that the DVSA claim are more useful. These include driving into and reversing out of a parking bay, as well as the driver pulling over to the right-hand side of the road and reversing two car lengths.

Changes to the Driving test

However, if the DVSA intend on making the driving test more realistic, there are still crucial practices excluded from the updates. While some drivers welcome the introduction of following a sat nav (46%) and doubling the time of independent driving (38%), almost three in four (73%) believe that motorway driving should be tested. In fact, over half (51%) admit that they would have felt more confident on the road as a new driver if they had been taught to drive on the motorway. And with the knowledge that young drivers have a higher proportion of accidents at night[1], it’s no wonder two thirds (66%) of motorists believe learner drivers should be taught how to drive in darker conditions. In fact, some believe lack of experience among learners is not limited to night time driving. Two in five (40%) say poor driving is caused by new motorists not being taught the necessary skills before they take to the road alone.

And it is not just driving skills which motorists believe should be introduced to the driving test. The research also highlights almost one in five drivers (18%) believe it’s beneficial to be taught how to get the best deals on car insurance, petrol, parking, car finance and car maintenance. This will give new drivers a better insight into the realistic cost implications of driving and teach them more affordable ways of owning a car.

Skills and behaviours which should be taught to learner drivers

Addressing these issues of poor driving, eight in 10 (80%) drivers also believe learners should be taught general driving etiquette such as lane discipline. Almost two in five (38%) think that poor driving behaviour is caused by new drivers picking up these bad habits. This will prevent new drivers from falling into the trap of tailgating, a bug bear of two thirds (65%) of drivers, or hogging the middle lane which frustrates over half (52%) of those on the road. Worryingly, one in five (22%) admit poor driving has caused them to shout or curse at another driver. Too frequently, drivers are getting annoyed with the lack of indicating (64%), littering (47%) and failure to give a thank you wave when giving way (34%).

Not only does bad driving behaviour grate on all road users, but it can also put them in danger. Worryingly, two in four (38%) drivers have experienced a collision or near miss from switching lanes at the last moment, and further one in four (23%) have had an accident or near miss as a result of tailgating. By teaching new drivers to avoid bad habits, the roads will become safer for all road users.

While challenging poor driving is important, worryingly, some driving instructors fundamentally disagree with the changes to the test in December. For example, hundreds have signed a petition calling for the DVSA to abolish the new manoeuvre which most drivers will recognise as parallel parking into oncoming coming traffic, calling it a “dangerous exercise”.  The DVSA response to the consultation notes that some respondents expressed concern about the pulling-up-on-the-right and reversing-out-of-a-parking-bay manoeuvres. However, they concluded that almost all the representative organisations were in favour of the proposals, which they felt represented real-life scenarios.

The driving test pass rate has slowly risen over the last decade, from 43% in 2007 to 47% in 2016[2], so it will be interesting to see if the new changes have an impact on pass rates and whether standards of driving will improve.

Amanda Stretton, motoring editor at Confused.com, took to the road with driving instructor Simon Carne to challenge the changes to the practical driving test. She says:

“We hope that the new test will help new drivers to adapt to the modern conditions of our roads, especially through the independent driving task and using a sat nav. But it is worrying that one in three drivers (33%) believe these new changes are still not going far enough.

“To make the roads safer, drivers believe more practical changes should have been included in the new updates set to be implemented in December. To help improve the quality of driving on our roads, there is a valid argument that new drivers should be taught general road etiquette and how to treat fellow drivers. This could help to minimise stress levels, road rage, and the risk of accidents, providing all drivers an easy ride.

“It is also unsurprising too see that one in five (18%) drivers think it would be beneficial to learn about the cost of motoring, considering this is continuously rising. By educating them on car insurance, petrol prices, maintenance and other costs that come with owning a car, drivers will know how and where to keep costs down and make driving more affordable”.

NOTES TO EDITORS

Unless otherwise stated, all figures taken from omnibus research carried out by One Poll on behalf of Confused.com. This was an online poll of 2,000 UK adults who drive (nationally representative sample). The research was conducted between 30th May and 5th June 2017.

Changes to the driving test

  1. Increase the ‘independent driving’ part of the test from 10 to 20 minutes
  2. Ask candidates to follow directions from a sat nav
  3. Replace the ‘reverse around a corner’ and ‘turn in the road’ manoeuvres with more real-life scenarios, e.g. driving into and reversing out of a parking bay
  4. Ask candidates to pull over to the right-hand side of the road and reverse two car lengths
  5. Ask 1 of the 2 vehicle safety questions (known as the ‘show me, tell me’ questions) while the candidate is driving

The DVSA trialled the changes with 850 driving instructors, 4,500 learner drivers in 32 locations. 

The Government conducted a consultation, with 3,953 respondents.

4% of all driving instructors were consulted, 1551 out of 39,467

Driving Instructor petition

[1] Brake, the Road Safety Charity on Young Drivers

[2] https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/534824/dvsa1207.pdf