It is important that candidates understand the changes and know what to expect during the test, so the DVSA have put together the following frequently asked questions to answer the most common queries and dispel any misconceptions about the new element of the test.
Q: If the candidate goes off route during the independent driving section, will the test be terminated?
A: No. Wherever possible, the examiner will get the candidate back on route and continue with the independent driving section. The test won’t be terminated.
Q: What happens if the candidate takes a completely wrong turning?
A: The examiner will control the situation (as on the current test) and preferably step in before the candidate goes off route. If that’s not possible (and everybody knows it can happen suddenly) the examiner will help the candidate get back on route as soon as possible by guiding them with normal directions.
Q: Would it be a fault if the candidate takes the examiner off route?
A: No. Just like the current test, independent driving is not a test of the candidate’s orientation skills. Providing the candidate does not commit a fault, there is nothing to assess. Any faults that did occur would be assessed as usual under the circumstances at the time.
Q: Is the approximate 10 minutes of independent driving the same for all categories?
A: Yes. All categories will have to demonstrate approximately 10 minutes of independent driving.
Q: Does the introduction of completing only one manoeuvre apply to Category B (Car) only?
A: Yes. Manoeuvres in other categories remain unchanged.
Q: When following traffic signs, the candidate approaches a junction but there are nosigns to the destination that the examiner specified. How will this be dealt with?
A: There will be times, due to poor or obscured signage, when the examiner may have to intervene. In this instance the examiner would say: “There are no signs here. Just continue ahead please” and then after the junction: “Now, carry on following the signs to”.
Q: It the candidate’s driving is dangerous, what would happen during the independent driving element?
A: Candidates are generally well prepared for their driving test but road safety, as always, is paramount. If a candidate’s driving becomes dangerous, the test would be terminated in the interest of public safety (as per the current test).
Q: During the independent driving section, if the candidate asks for a reminder of the directions, will the examiner be able to tell them?
A: Yes, of course. Just as with the current test, the examiner will be happy to confirm the directions. Driving independently means making your own decisions, and just like driving with friends, this includes deciding when it’s safe and appropriate to ask for confirmation on where you are going.
Q: What will happen if a candidate has special needs such as dyslexia and they cannot follow directions?
A: The DVSA is determined that no member of society should suffer detriment due to any change we introduce. The DVSA already has in place procedures to indentify special need or disability at booking stage, both on our internet and telephone booking systems, Instructors are asked to make sure that they, or their candidate, always follow the current practice when booking a practical test. Once the booking is made, the type of special need is flagged so that reasonable adjustment can be made, such as asking the candidate what method is preferable for them, i.e. following signs, or a series of directions which are supported by a visual aid in the form of a diagram. In some cases the instructions will be shortened to just two directions.
The DVSA recognise there are many ways of developing perfectly roadsafe coping strategies in order to navigate from A to B, and the DVSA are satisfied that their examiners will manage each situation accordingly. Independent driving is a significant road safety addition to the practical driving test, but will not prevent candidates from holding a licence.
Q: What if the candidate does not speak English?
A: The DVSA does not anticipate this to be a problem. Examiners are very experienced at dealing with candidates with little or no English. Just as currently, the candidate can have an interpreter along with them on the test if they wish. The DVSA has also made one change to their policy regarding interpreters. From 6th April 2010, ADIs are able to act as interpreter to their own pupils.
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