If you are a learner driver, a driving instructor, or a driving examiner, then you must be aware that at the end of last year, some changes to the UK practical driving test were implemented.

It is vital that you familiarise yourself with the revisions, which intended to bring the driving test into the modern-day, be a more accurate measure of safety and encourage learners to do more driving without guidance.

It was found that the public were overwhelmingly in favour of the four main amendments to the UK practical driving test, but there was some controversy among examiners when they were announced. The particular change that caused a stir involves reversing manoeuvres. Motorists will no longer need to perform a reverse around a corner or turn in the road – rather, they will perform one of three other reverse manoeuvres. They are as follows:

  • Park parallel
  • Park in a bay
  • Pull up on the right-hand side of the road, reverse for two full car lengths, and rejoin traffic


It is the latter manoeuvre which caused some uproar. It is considered dangerous by a large number of examiners, and goes in direct violation of the Highway Code. Whether you agree with it or not, you need to know about it.

Furthermore, to modernise the practical driving test, a sat-nav directed section has been added. In the independent driving part of the test, motorists will now be asked to follow directions from a sat-nav. The examiner will provide the sat-nav (a TomTom Start 52) and will choose the destination. Since over half of drivers possess a sat-nav, this change makes sense to keep the practical examination up-to-date. Yet, a fifth of drivers will not be asked to follow a sat-nav, and will instead follow road signs – so you have to prepare for both.

Independent driving is the subject of another change that was introduced in December. The time spent driving without guidance from the examiner has increased from ten minutes to twenty minutes. This puts the ability of the learner under more scrutiny, and allows the examiner to potentially identify more errors (faults). Another measure to improve the safety assessment in practical driving tests that has been introduced is having them take place on busier, high-speed roads instead of quiet roads. This is because there are more deaths on high-traffic roads, and the aim is to reduce that number.

Lastly, the safety questions will be asked slightly differently. “Tell me”, a safety question where the learner just has to describe the answer, will be asked at the beginning of the test before the driving starts. “Show me”, a safety question where the learner must physically demonstrate the answer, will be asked during the drive.

There you have it. Most of the general public responded positively to the changes when they were introduced in 2017, in fact 70% of 3,900 people surveyed agreed with the revisions to the 2018 UK practical driving test. Overall, the test has been made.

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