THE driving test is about to go through a significant change. The ideas behind the change are aimed at making the test more consistent with real life driving and are generally welcomed. However, some of the changes are quite controversial.

From December 4 the Turn in the Road (commonly known as the three point turn) will no longer be tested and nor will another long standing manoeuvre, the reverse into a road. Both manoeuvres allow a driver to turn the car round in order to drive in the opposite direction.

Although they won't be tested members of Kendal & District Driving Instructors Association will continue to include these on lessons as we are sure both learner drivers and parents will understand they are an essential part of driving and are useful tools in learning to control the car at slow speed and in limited space. Our aim is to ensure customers develop all the necessary skills not only to pass their tests but to drive safely beyond the driving test.

In their place the learner on test may be required to drive forward into a parking bay and then reverse out. Currently only the reverse bay park is included and is of course usually the safest way to park but there are times when we need access to the rear of the car (eg when shopping) and by introducing this into the test it is hoped new drivers will be able to carry out this manoeuvre more safely.

The other addition will require the learner to pull up on the right hand side of the road, reverse two car lengths and move off again. This is contrary to the information in the Highway Code and at night it would be illegal (unless pulling into a marked parking bay).

Many learners at this time of year are only able to take lessons in the dark so there would not be a legal way to learn and to practise this. In view of this the association notified our MP Tim Farron of our concerns and he has written to the DVSA to request they review this change.

The response from the DVSA is to state that the test will be introduced as it is proposed from December 4 - they believe the action of pulling up on the right is different from parking on the right. Objections have been raised nationally by individual instructors, other regional and national organisations and even many examiners but the DVSA will not listen.

The use of a Sat Nav to give directions will now also take place on the majority of driving tests. Preset routes would be used. Currently candidates can be asked to drive independently by following direction signs until instructed otherwise. This option is still available to examiners but the greater percentage of tests will use the Sat Nav for this.

The period of independent driving will be extended from 10 to 20 minutes. This is something we think is useful and gives us the opportunity to show how Sat Navs are not always correct and cannot be used without considering other road signs and markings.

Finally the current test requires the candidate to be able to answer two2 questions relating to car safety - show me, tell me questions. At the moment these questions are asked while stationary at the beginning of the test. From December 4 only one question will be asked at the start and the other will be asked during the test while diving (eg "when it is safe please show me how you would clean the windscreen using the washers and wipers).

One of the possible questions would be to sound the horn - an illegal action unless being used to warn another road user of your presence. We want this question to be removed or only asked while stationary on private land.

The association welcomes the fact that the driving test is being updated but believes there is still some room for improvement over what is being introduced in December and that those elements that conflict with the advice in the Highway Code (or even in law) should be removed.

Glyn Jamieson

Chairman, Kendal & District Driving Instructors Association