New driving test changes criticised for impact on corporate driving skills
Next month will see the introduction of two changes to the driving test, including a reduction in the number of reversing manoeuvres that candidates have to perform, from two down to one.
While some road safety organisations and learning schools have praised the move for allowing more of the test to be devoted to junctions and general driving, Graham Hurdle, managing director of E-Training World, has expressed his concern over the move.
'I am conscious that the test elements need to be focused on the biggest impact on road safety, and crashes at junctions and roundabouts are nearly always more serious than crashes whilst manoeuvring. However, businesses complain that the slow speed manoeuvring crash is what costs them the most in vehicle repairs. If it is not tested, then it won't be taught.
'There needs to be a balance between the different sections of the driving test and eliminating part of the examination that helps to develop the skills needed to control a car in tight situations such as parking and turning in close quarters doesn't help this,' he added. 'The alternative is that we accept that no matter what we do, many new inexperienced drivers climbing into their first company vehicle will have crashes.'
Another new aspect of the driving test is a period of independent driving where candidates will drive for about 10 minutes, without step-by-step direction from their examiner. This will involve either following a series of directions, following traffic signs, or a combination of both.
Mr Hurdle says that he believes this new section of the driving test is now almost irrelevant as a result of the proliferation of satellite navigation systems, and is critical of the way the Driving Standards Agency is revising the driving test 'piecemeal'.
'The biggest road safety problem is still new drivers,' he commented. 'It's time for the DSA to stop doing little tweaks and have a radical re-think about how people learn to drive, are tested and how the techniques they learn are relevant to today's roads and vehicles.
'The problem is that people see the driving test as the end of the process of learning to drive, where as it should be the start of the "journey". I have lost count of the number of managers who have criticised the standard of their drivers, yet the company has done no driver development training.
'If companies really want safer drivers driving our vehicles, they shouldn't wait for the DSA to make improvements that will actually result in better driving standards in new drivers, they have to invest in their employees. This will see a better return on investment than the DSA will ever get from their little tweaks.'