Driving in Sevenoaks and Tonbridge

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E.C.P.C Driving School


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Frequently Asked Questions

What is independent driving?

From 4 October 2010, learner drivers have been tested on independent driving as part of the practical driving test.

During their test, candidates have to drive for about 10 minutes, either following a series of directions, following traffic signs, or a combination of both.

To help candidates understand where they’re going, the examiner may show them a diagram.

It doesn't matter if candidates don't remember every direction, or if they go the wrong way - that can happen to the most experienced drivers.

Manoeuvres

Since October 2010, car test candidates (category B) have had to complete one reversing manoeuvre rather than two. The manoeuvre is selected at random by the examiner from:

An emergency stop exercise is still conducted on one in three tests.

Video shows independent driving
DVSA has published a short video explaining more about independent driving. There is also a web page that tells you all about independent driving http://sharing.govdelivery.com/bulletins/GD/UKDVSA-D179E

Cost of the test
The cost of the test, and its duration, remained the same.

Newspaper reports
The claim in some newspapers that independent driving would lead to a fall in the driving test pass rate is based on early research where conditions did not reflect the eventual design of the new element of the test.

Subsequent trials with a larger number of participants and more closely reflecting the conditions in the planned new test showed no significant fall in the pass rate.

Routes, directions and sat navs

If the candidate goes off-route during the independent driving section, the examiner will get the candidate back on route and continue with the independent driving section wherever possible. The test won’t be terminated.

If the candidate looks like taking a wrong turning, the examiner will control the situation as they do now and preferably step in before the candidate goes off route. If that’s not possible, the examiner will help the candidate get back on route as soon as possible by guiding them with normal directions.

Independent driving is not a test of the candidate’s orientation skills. If the candidate goes off route, but does not commit a fault, there’s nothing to assess. Any faults that did occur would be assessed under the circumstances at the time - as usual. There is no change to assessment.

There will be times when, due to poor or obscured signage, the examiner may have to intervene. If this happens the examiner would say, ‘There are no signs here. Just continue ahead please’ and then, ‘Now, carry on following the signs to ……’

If the candidate asks for a reminder of the directions, the examiner will be happy to confirm them. Driving independently means making your own decisions and, just like when driving with friends, this includes deciding when it’s safe and appropriate to ask for confirmation on where you’re going.

Independent driving is designed to test the learner’s ability to drive unsupervised and make decisions without guidance and in unfamiliar contexts. DVSA is therefore taking the opportunity to review the appropriateness of current route publication practices.

The independent driving section of the test is approximately 10 minutes when you will be asked to drive making your own decisions. A sat nav gives directions in much the same way as the driver trainer, or the examiner, so it’s not appropriate to use for independent driving.

Watch 'Independent driving in the driving test: what is it?' on YouTube

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