UK driving tests will now include a section on satellite navigation

Steering tests into the 21st century.
Steering tests into the 21st century.
Image: Reuters/Luke MacGregor
We may earn a commission from links on this page.

Driving tests in the UK are keeping up with the times.

Starting Dec. 4, drivers will be tested on how well they follow directions from a sat nav, or GPS device, the BBC reported. Half of all British drivers now have a sat nav installed, and using them teaches drivers to better manage distractions, the Driving and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) said.

The government agency decided to revise the test to include guided navigation after a public consultation where 71% of almost 4,000 responses agreed with asking candidates to follow directions from a sat nav, the BBC noted.

Transport minister Andrew Jones said that introducing sat nav would go a long way in “ensuring the driving test is relevant in the 21st century.” Before giving out licenses, examiners will test how well learner drivers follow instructions from the dashboard for around 20 minutes, according to the Guardian.  The DVSA piloted the new tests with 4,500 drivers across 32 test centers in the UK earlier this year.

“Much has changed since the first driving test was taken in 1935, and it must be right that the test evolves, just as the cars we drive are themselves changing to incorporate ever more driver assist technology such as inbuilt sat nav systems,” motoring research charity RAC Foundation director Steve Gooding said. ”Novice drivers need to demonstrate the right skills and driving style to cope with the new environment.”

Gooding believes that the new test will better equip candidates to take to the roads unsupervised. Disabled Motoring UK also voiced support for the decision because sat nav aids many disabled motorists, too.

Older assessments like the three-point turn or reversing round a corner will be replaced with more relevant alternatives. Learners will have to drive into a parking bay and reverse out, pull up on a road side, rejoin traffic, and more. The length of independent driving is also being doubled from 10 minutes to 20 minutes.