Independent Driving.

Independent Driving as part of the UK Practical Driving Test

Over the last ten to fifteen years or so, the UK Practical driving test has been adapted in a number of ways.

  • The questions on the Highway Code that were a part of the practical test, have been replaced with a Driving Theory Test.
  • The Theory Test has, since it's introduction, been extended to include 50 multiple choice questions instead of the original 35.
  • The Hazard Perception section now includes a Case Study analysis.
  • The Practical Driving Test has a 'Show Me, Tell Me' section to test learner's vehicle maintenance knowledge.
  • A further adaptation to the UK Practical Driving Test was introduced on 4th October 2010. This adaptation involves the introduction of a section that tests candidates' independent driving skills. This section lasts approximately 10 minutes and is incorporated into the existing driving test format.

    What happens?

    The examiner will ask the test candidate to pull in and park in a safe place. He/she will then explain that the section on independent driving will commence. He/she will ask you to follow a series of directions, or the traffic signs designating for a particular destination, or a combination of both of these. He/she may also show you a diagram of the direction to be taken. These diagrams have been approved by the British Dyslexia Association to ensure that individuals with special needs will have no difficulty following the instructions necessary to complete this part of the test. Driving Examiners will also repeat directions as necessary if the candidate forgets where it is that they are to drive toward, and can write down place names if required (as may be necessary for people whose first language is not English).

    The D.V.S.A. stress that this is a test of independent driving skills, not a test of orienteering skills. It is, therefore, also seen to be realistic if a candidate needs to double-check the end point during this section of the test, as this would frequently occur in real-life driving situations in the course of a journey to a relatively unknown area.

    The test candidate will continue to drive, self-directed, as per the Examiner's instructions until such time as the Driving Examiner informs the candidate to stop i.e. at the end of the designated time, the Driving Examiner will again ask you to find a safe place to park. Once you park, he/she will tell you that the independent driving section is over and will return to giving you directions for the rest of the Driving Test.

    The purpose of this section is to test the ability of learner drivers to follow road signs, whilst continuing to think about their knowledge of the rules of the road, alongside their practical driving skills, such as safe road positioning, and their driving awareness, e.g. judgement and anticipation, all relevant to their direction of travel.

    This is a vital part of everyday driving. The government, in an attempt to ensure that New Drivers are safe drivers with a good degree of driving skill, are making every attempt to ensure that the UK Driving Test fully prepares them for driving in todays traffic situations, and that newly qualified drivers have a driving knowledge and skill level that enables them to safely deal with the realism of driving in todays traffic.

    This new section became a part of all UK practical Driving Tests (Car) on 4th October 2010. The time taken for the driving test has remained the same, but Driving Examiners now ask candidates to perform only one driving manoeuvre, instead of two (i.e. reverse round a corner or reverse-parallel park or turn in the road).

    All Approved Driving Instructors (A.D.I.'s) should include independent driving into their lessons now, to enable their learner drivers to be comfortable with, and confident about, this section of the practical Driving Test. It's important that learner drivers learn how to do this for the driving test, but it's just as important that they're comfortable with self-directing their own driving by the time they pass their test so that they'll realistically be ready to do so when they qualify and are out in their car on their own.

    The D.V.S.A. are also currently looking at the practicality of using Satellite Navigation systems (Sat Nav's) within the driving test at some point in the future (time frame undisclosed as yet) - so expect that the Practical Driving Test in the UK will continue to adapt and reform in response to Britain's changing traffic and busier roads as we move through the 21st Century.


    We hope this page has been useful, and reassures you about exactly what is involved in this new section of the Driving Test. Return to Your Driving Test to refresh yourself about the current driving test. Otherwise, continue onwards. Our next page covers what happens After the Driving Test , both if you pass and if you don't, so maybe have a browse.




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