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Teenager first to pass the UK driving test with satnav

Back in February, Book Theory Test Today posted about satnavs being introduced to the practical driving test. Three months on, a teenage learner driver has become the first to pass the UK driving test using satellite navigation.

Amid a massive shake up of the UK driving test, 17-year-old Grant Ferguson of Bishopbriggs in East Dunbartonshire, Scotland, has become the first learner to successfully pass the UK driving test using a satnav device.

Local driving test centre  

Grant’s local driving test centre was one of the 20 facilities selected to trial the new look DVSA practical test which features the use of a GPS satellite navigation system. Grant took his exam at Bishopbriggs Driving Test Centre on April 27.

What did Grant have to do to pass the UK driving test using satnav?

Grant’s exam invigilator simply set a route on the satnav that would last for 20 minutes of his test. He simply had to follow the verbal instructions given by the satnav, without seeking assistance from his instructor.

New look practical test

Trials of the new look practical driving test are expected to last until the end of the year, and during this time the Driving Vehicle and Standards Agency (DVSA) expects over 1000 learner drivers to take the revised test.

On becoming the first learner to pass the UK driving test using a satnav device, Grant said: “I had been learning to drive for about a month when the opportunity came up to try out the new test. I felt like I was part of an important change.

Introducing the satnav into the test is about training to make sure that you’re only listening for guidance and not staring at the screen too often. I’ll definitely be buying a satnav because that’s what I know and it gives you a bit of freedom to go where you want.

I’ve wanted to drive for a very long time. I was a bit relieved that I didn’t have to do the reverse around the corner in the test. The test is meant to imitate what you’re going to be doing in real life such as reversing into a parking space at the shops.”

Biggest shake up since the theory test

If the trial of the new look test is successful and rolled out across the UK, it would be the biggest shake up to driver testing since the theory test was introduced in 1996 and will undoubtedly alter the requirements needed to pass the UK driving test. 

As well as introducing satellite navigation, other changes could see the reverse around the corner and the three-point turn scrapped, to be replaced by more day-to-day manoeuvres like bay parking.

Grant’s tutor, Drew Nicol, of the Popular School of Motoring in Kirkintilloch, East Dunbartonshire, said: “My driving school was one of the first to register for the trial. I think it’s a good idea and much more realistic. Drivers are using the satnav more and more now as a means of direction and the new test is designed to reflect this.”

He added: “The tester will be looking to see, for example, if the driver is looking too much at the satnav instead of listening to it.”

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