Over the years, the standard UK driving test hasn't changed all that much. Since 1996, learners have had to prove their road-worthiness by completing a set of multiple-choice questions and demonstrating decent hazard perception, but it's always been about proving you're a safe driver. In its biggest shake-up since the introduction of the theory test, the government will require new drivers to demonstrate their ability to navigate using a satellite navigation (sat nav) device in the hope it will promote safety, boost confidence and widen potential areas used for practical tests.
Under the new plans, the independent driving section of the test rise from 10 to 20 minutes. The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) believes it will allow assessors to better judge a candidate's ability to manage different road conditions and "manage and prioritise distractions," which may include directions from a sat nav.
Because many drivers now automatically use the sat nav built into their car or assistive smartphone apps like Google Maps, the DVSA argues that "this change in driver behaviour should be reflected in the test." Instead of having to bring their own device, the candidate will use a pre-approved sat nav provided by an assessor that will be fixed to their car. They'll then be judged on their ability follow the directions provided, but won't be asked to actually program it.
Since April 2015, UK transport research body TRL has run a trial on the new test and found that learners are now spending more time on fast dual carriageways and using sat navs with their driving instructor when learning, which in turn made them more confident on the road. The public will now be invited to comment on whether they agree with the proposal ahead of the August 25th deadline.