Will December’s driving test changes reduce fatalities? Being able to reverse safely will still be important

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Will December’s driving test changes reduce fatalities?

Being able to reverse safely will still be important

 

More than a quarter of all deaths among 15 to 19-year-olds are the result of traffic collisions, according to research.

With this in mind the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) carried out a trial of proposed changes to the driving test at 32 driving test centres during 2015-16.

The changes will be introduced on December 4 this year to address the evidence that most fatal collisions happen on high-speed roads, not including motorways, and more than 52% of drivers now use a sat nav.

The four main changes include 20 minutes of independent driving (increased from 10 minutes) where the examiner will not be giving step by step instructions and will now make up approximately half of the test. The examinee will also have to follow directions using a sat nav supplied by the examiner.

There will also be changes to reversing manoeuvres, eliminating reversing round a corner and turning in the road. Instead one of three possibilities have been introduced, parallel parking at the roadside, parking in a bay as instructed (either driving in and reversing out, or the opposite), and pulling up on the right-hand side of the road, reversing for two car lengths and then re-joining the traffic.

Examinees will also be asked two vehicle safety questions that will involve either explaining or demonstrating a safety task.

Being able to reverse safely will still be important

As an experienced trainer of drivers for companies I have to ask whether pupils will still be taught the two manoeuvres that have been removed from the test. In theory, DVSA says they expect instructors to continue to do so.

In my experience these are clearly skills that need to be taught.

Earlier this year I spend nine days working with drivers at a company that had amassed £150,000 in insurance claims as a result of drivers either hitting parked cars or street furniture, mostly in side streets.

Reversing and turning in narrow roads can be a particular problem for van drivers especially, not only because of the size of the vehicle but also because of limited rear vision.

Even most drivers taught now, before the test changes, are not taught the benefits of reversing to the right in a van as it offers more vision and many of those I was helping were unaware of the benefits of using this. When we practiced, they were surprised how much easier it is.

Given that employers have a duty of care to their drivers and to other road users when their drivers are on the road for work, as well as liabilities in the event of damage, injury or death, it may be sensible for them to ensure their drivers are thoroughly trained in reversing.

Delivery drivers, particularly, often need to get into and out of residential streets where cars are parked at the roadside and if there is not enough space to turn, competent reversing is definitely a skill worth having and could save employers money in damage claims.

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