Rumours always circulate about driving test changes, but this time they are true – the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) is changing the driving test from October 2010! It is the driving tests’ 75th birthday this year, and to celebrate it is being altered to examine ‘a more realistic drive’. The “assessment of competence to drive independently” will be introduced across all practical tests in an attempt to reduce the number of new driver accidents, which have been of concern for some time.

If you would prefer to take the old practical driving test as it currently stands, then be warned that in the Gloucestershire area it currently take approximately 3 to 4 weeks for your theory test date to arrive after application, and 6 to 8 weeks after passing that for a practical test date to come through. That’s if there isn’t a rush once news of the changes becomes more widely known!

JSF Driving School suggests that you apply for your theory test in June 2010 at the latest, so that you can apply for your practical test at the end of July 2010, obviously having professional lessons in preparation for that first time pass! JSF Driving School still currently offers the first hour free for new learners, so that you can check us out and see why we are highly recommended by our learners. With longer daylight hours, then it should be possible to pass the old style test if you get organized soon!

The emphasis on independent driving will mean that there will be less reversing manoeuvres assessed on the practical test. Instead of two manoeuvres, one will be requested at random from the four usually taught, so they will still all need to be learnt. The change will mean that test routes can be opened up to include drives that will test skills needed to read real situations, no longer planned around ‘manoeuvre spots’, travelling further a field in real traffic. Research has shown that young drivers approve of this change in emphasis.

The independent driving element of the test will last for 10 minutes. You will be asked to drive to a specific location by following a series of road signs, simple directional aids and/or a number of verbal directions provided by the examiner. A maximum of three or four directions will be given whilst the car is stationery. The examiner will not make further comments on direction once you are moving.

The test itself will probably need to be extended to 50 minutes in length, although details have yet to be confirmed by the DSA, who are currently assessing the most efficient duration in which to test as many situations as practically possible. The knock on effect of this will be fewer tests being conducted per day by each test centre, and the wait of 6-8 weeks for a test date from application will probably be extended. It follows that we will probably hear of a test price increase from the current £62 as well!

Of course, JSF Driving School Instructors are fully prepared for any changes that the new test may highlight, as we have always encouraged independent driving techniques during JSF lessons as part of a safe driving for life strategy. Feel free to contact Sharn or Jim if you have an questions or wish to discuss your options, on 0800 3777 138, email, or see our website at