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What is the Independent Driving Test?

Since the driving test was updated in December 2017, there’s been a lot of confusion over the independent driving part of the driving test, including how long you’re expected to drive independently for and whether a sat nav is used. Here are the facts about the independent driving test.

The independent driving test was introduced by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) in October 2010 and lasted about 10 minutes.

The independent driving section of the test enables examiners to assess a candidate’s ability to drive independently following road markings and road signs, without any prompting from the examiner. In December 2017, the practical driving test was updated, with the changes affecting the independent driving element.

Independent driving was extended from 10 minutes to 20 minutes and now makes up half of the test.

The independent driving test now also includes following directions from a sat nav.

How the Independent Driving Test Works

During your driving test, your examiner will instruct you to park up on the left-hand side of the road when it’s safe to do so. They will then tell you that the independent driving test is about to begin.

You will be asked to follow road signs, and possibly sat nav prompts, to demonstrate that you can drive unaided. For every five practical driving tests conducted, four will include following directions from a sat nav.

You don’t need to bring your own sat nav to the test or operate the device during your exam. You simply need to follow the route that the examiner inputs, using the voice prompts to guide you.

If your practical driving test does not involve following instructions from a sat nav, you will be asked to follow road signs for your independent driving test. Routes for independent driver testing will be locations where road signs are clearly visible, where possible.

Where a road sign is not visible, for example it’s obstructed by trees, your driving examiner will provide directions until the next sign is visible. If you’re asked to follow road signs for your independent driving test, your examiner will ask you to follow signs to a specific location.

What are the Independent Driving Test Rules?

The independent driving test doesn’t have any specific rules. In fact, even following directions and signs correctly is not a necessity. However, you should do your very best to

follow directions as closely as possible, but the main purpose of independent driving is to demonstrate that you can drive safely and remain calm when driving unaided.

Getting to your location following an exact route is secondary. It doesn’t matter how you get to your destination, it’s whether you do it safely. Don’t worry if you make a mistake or take a wrong turn your sat nav will re-route you or if you’re following road signs, the examiner will help you and get you back on the route.

The key is to remain calm and don’t let it affect your driving, should you make an error. You won’t fail the independent driving test for making a wrong turn, but you will if you become stressed and panic because this will affect your ability to operate your vehicle safely.

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