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Driving Information

 

 

Rules for Learning to Drive

Before you start to drive, you must:

  • hold a valid, provisional driving licence for Great Britain or Northern Ireland
  • make sure that any vehicle you drive is roadworthy and properly taxed and insured

It is important to learn safe driving practice from the beginning of your driving career because bad habits are hard to break. It is unlikely that anyone except an approved driving instructor (ADI) has the experience, knowledge and training to teach you properly. Learning safe driving habits from the start will improve the safety of yourself and other road users.

If you want to practise your driving with an accompanying driver, the accompanying driver must be over the age of 21 and must have held (and still hold) a full licence, in the relevant vehicle category, for three years. As a learner driver you must display 'L' plates ('L' or 'D' plates in Wales) in a conspicuous position on the front and rear of the vehicle you are driving, and you must ensure that your car is suitably insured.


Link to apply for provisional driving licence:

https://www.gov.uk/apply-first-provisional-driving-licence

 

Minimum Ages

You can take your theory test once your provisional licence becomes valid. Normally, for car drivers, the earliest date your provisional licence can become valid is your 17th birthday. You can apply for the licence up to three months before your 17th birthday however; you will still have to wait until your birthday before you can take your theory test. If you are receiving disability living allowance at the higher rate your provisional licence will come into effect when you are 16, but you can apply for it within three months prior to your 16th birthday.

 

Eyesight

When you apply for your driving licence, you must tell the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) if you have any visual condition which affects:

  • both eyes - not including short or long sight or colour blindness
  • your sight - not including short or long sight or colour blindness - for example, if you have sight in one eye only

If you have had sight correction surgery you should declare this when you apply for your provisional licence.

At the start of the practical driving test, your driving examiner will ask you to read the number plate on a parked vehicle. You get up to three chances to get it right.

You'll have to read the number plate from a distance of:

  • 20 metres for vehicles with a new-style number plate. (New-style number plates start with two letters followed by two numbers, for example AB51 ABC)
  • 20.5 metres for vehicles with an old-style number plate

If you can't read the first number plate correctly, you'll be asked to read a second number plate. If you can't read the second number plate correctly, the examiner will measure the exact distance to a third number plate and this will be your final chance to read a number plate correctly.

If you cannot read the third number plate at the exact distance, and the examiner is satisfied that you do not meet the required eyesight standard:

  • you will fail your driving test and your driving test will not continue

If you fail the eyesight test the examiner will ask you to sign a form stating you were unable to comply with the eyesight requirements, the DVSA will be told that you did not meet the eyesight requirements and your licence will be revoked.

If you can't speak English or have difficulty reading, you can write down what you see.

 

Wearing glasses or contact lenses while driving

If you wear glasses or contact lenses for the eyesight test, the law requires that you wear them whenever you are driving. This includes during your driving test. If you remove them during the test, you'll be reminded that you must wear them. If you refuse to wear them, the test will not continue.

You are not allowed to remove your glasses or contact lenses when carrying out test manoeuvres (reversing and so on).

 

The Practical Driving Test from December 2017

The driving test is straightforward and has been designed to see if you:

  • can drive safely in different road and traffic conditions
  • know The Highway Code and can show this through your driving ability

The driving part of your test will last about 40 minutes and throughout the test your examiner will be looking for an overall safe standard of driving. So long as you show the standard required, you'll pass your driving test. There are no pass or fail quotas.

During your test the examiner will give you directions which you should follow. You'll drive in various road and traffic conditions. You should drive in the way your instructor has trained you. You might also be asked to carry out an emergency stop.

You'll be asked to complete an exercise to show how well you can reverse your vehicle. The examiner will choose one exercise from:

  • parallel park at the side of the road
  • parking in a bay - either driving in and reversing out, or reversing in and driving out (the examiner will tell you which)
  • pulling up on the right-hand side of the road, reversing for 2 car lengths and rejoining traffic

Your driving test will also include around twenty minutes of independent driving. This is designed to assess your ability to drive safely while making decisions independently.

If you make a mistake, don't worry about it as it might be a less serious driving fault and might not affect your result. However, if at any time your examiner considers your driving to be a danger to other road users they will stop your test.

Link to book your practical test

https://www.gov.uk/book-practical-driving-test

 

Independent Driving

During your test you'll have to drive independently for around 20 minutes. Most candidates will be asked to follow directions from a sat nav which will be provided and set up by the examiner.

One in 5 tests will not use a sat nav. In this case you will be asked to follow traffic signs or directions, given to you at the start of the independent driving section, by the examiner.

It doesn't matter if you don't remember every direction, or if you go the wrong way - that can happen to the most experienced drivers. If you need to ask for a reminder of the directions, the examiner will confirm them to you.

Remember Independent Driving is not a test of your orientation and navigation skills. Driving independently means making your own decisions - this includes deciding when it's safe and appropriate to ask for confirmation about where you're going.

If you go off the independent driving route it won't affect the result of your test unless you commit a driving fault. If you do go off the route, or take a wrong turning, the examiner will help you to get back on the route or the sat nav will redirect you. You can then continue with the independent driving.

If there are poor or obscured traffic signs, the examiner will assist you until you can see the next traffic sign. You won't need to have a detailed knowledge of the area.

Documentation for your Practical Driving Test

You must bring the following documents with you. If you do not bring the right documents:

  • the Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) may refuse to carry out the test
  • you may lose your fee

Bring your plastic photo card driving licence and your theory test pass certificate (or confirmation).

If you have an old-style paper licence, you must take your signed driving licence and you must also bring a valid passport. No other form of photographic identification will be accepted.

You also need to bring a car that can be used for the test that is roadworthy and properly taxed and insured.

 

Lost Driving Licences

If you misplace your driving licence, you must apply for a replacement from the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA). This could take up to 15 days. If this happens, you may have to rearrange your test.

 

Lost your theory test certificate

If you have lost your certificate, you can find the reference number at the time of booking your Practical Test by using the following link. DVSA don't issue replacement certificates, but you should write down your certificate number and expiry date in case this is required at a later date.


https://www.gov.uk/find-lost-theory-test-pass-certificate-number

 

Taking someone with you on your car driving test

The examiner will ask if you want your instructor, or another person, to go with you on your driving test and sit in the back of the car. DVSA encourages you to take someone with you on your driving test. They:

  • will usually be the person who has taught you to drive
  • could be a relative or friend
  • must be over 16 years old
  • cannot take any part in the test
  • will be able to see how you perform during the test

To get the most benefit, ask your instructor to go with you. They can then give you advice on how to improve your driving, whether you pass or fail.

 

The Examiner's Supervisor

The examiner's supervisor may come along as well. You shouldn't worry about this as they will be watching the examiner's performance, not yours. The supervisor will not have a say in how you are tested or in your result. If you don’t allow the examiner’s supervisor to go with you your test might not go ahead and you might lose your test fee.

 

Appropriate vehicle for use on your driving test

If your vehicle doesn't meet the rules:

  • your test will be cancelled and you may lose your fee

Most learner drivers take their practical test in their driving instructor's car. However, you can take the test in your own vehicle if it meets certain rules.

You can take your driving test in either a manual or automatic vehicle. However, if you pass your test in an automatic you'll only get a licence to drive an automatic.

For driving test purposes manual vehicles have three pedals – accelerator, brake and clutch, whereas automatic vehicles have two pedals.

Your vehicle must be fitted with an interior rear-view mirror for the examiner and L-plates ('L' or 'D' plates in Wales)  on the front and rear, but not interfering with yours or the examiner's view.

The vehicle you use for your test must:

  • have four wheels
  • be capable of reaching at least 62.5 miles per hour (mph) or 100 kilometres per hour (km/h)
  • be fitted with a speedometer that measures speed in mph
  • have no warning lights showing - for example, the airbag warning light
  • have a maximum authorised mass (MAM) of no more than 3,500 kilograms (kg) (MAM is the maximum weight of the vehicle including the maximum load that can be carried safely while used on the road. This is also known as 'gross vehicle weight')
  • be appropriately insured
  • display a valid tax disc
  • be legal and roadworthy and have a current MOT if it needs one
  • be a smoke-free environment

You cannot use a hire car that does not have dual controls for a driving test
The vehicle must also be fitted with;

  • a seatbelt for the examiner
  • a passenger head restraint - it doesn't need to be adjustable, but must be an integral part of the seat as 'slip on' types aren't allowed

In some cars the spare tyre is a space-saver intended for temporary use only. You cannot take your test if a space-saver tyre is in use.

You can use your vehicle for your test if it is fitted with an electronic parking brake.

Some vehicles don't meet the rules and can't be used for a driving test. This is because the vehicles don't give the examiner all-round vision. Generally they are:

  • convertible cars and panel vans

Some makes and models of cars that can't be used

  • Mini convertible
  • Ford KA convertible
  • Toyota iQ
  • VW Beetle convertible

If you want to use a convertible car or panel van, check that it's suitable when you book your test.

 

Special needs

Driving examiners are very experienced at dealing with candidates who only speak a little English.

DVSA also provides a number of facilities for you if you have special needs or physical disabilities. No matter how serious your disability might be, you'll still take the same driving test as everyone else.

The law requires you to tell the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) about any condition that might affect your ability to drive safely. The DVSA has procedures to identify special needs and disabilities when tests are booked online or over the phone. The examiner then knows which type of special needs you have so reasonable adjustment can be made. You'll be asked if you have:

  • any condition which affects your movement
  • any missing limbs
  • any special learning needs
  • arthritis
  • dyslexia
  • epilepsy
  • paraplegia
  • any other special needs

You'll also be asked if you are:

  • deaf - either profoundly or not
  • heavily pregnant

More time might be allowed for your test if you have certain special needs. This gives the examiner time to talk to you about your disability and any adaptations fitted to your vehicle. You don't need to have a badge through the Blue Badge Scheme to be able to take a test with more time.

 

Pass Plus

Pass Plus is an established training course aimed at new drivers to help them become better drivers. It was designed by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) with the help of insurers and the driving instruction industry.

Statistics show that new drivers are more likely to have an accident in the first two years after passing their test. This is because of their lack of driving experience. Pass Plus builds on your skills and knowledge. It will teach you how to anticipate, plan for and deal with all kinds of hazards, to help you become a more confident driver.

Pass Plus consists of six modules about driving in different conditions:

  • in town
  • in all weathers
  • on rural roads
  • at night
  • on dual carriageways
  • on motorways

At the start of your course, your instructor will give you a copy of the 'Pass Plus Pupil's Guide'. This contains detailed information about all aspects of Pass Plus. The training will take at least six hours, though it can take longer if your instructor thinks it's necessary.

Pass Plus is a practical course and all modules should be practical sessions. However, local conditions and time of year may mean that some modules need to be given as a theory session. A theory session could be given if there is no motorway nearby. Generally at least five and a half out of six hours should be spent in the car.

You will not have to take a test at the end of the course but you will be continually assessed during the modules. Your instructor will complete a training report form that you’ll sign and date when you reach the required standard in each module. To pass the course you'll need to reach a satisfactory standard in all the course modules. You’ll be given a progress record to help you to keep track of your progress throughout the course.

On successfully completing your training you'll be sent your Pass Plus certificate to claim your discount on your car insurance policy.

 

The New Drivers Act

If you have just passed your first driving test, the New Drivers Act means you’re ‘on probation’ for two years. If you reach six or more penalty points in that time, you’ll lose your licence. Then, you’ll have to apply and pay for a new provisional licence. This means you’ll be a learner driver again.

You get penalty points for all sorts of driving-related offences, like speeding or driving dangerously. The penalties for traffic offences are set out in the Highway Code.

You can also get penalty points on your provisional licence before you pass your test. These points last for three years and will count under the Act. If you reach six points before you’ve taken your test, your provisional licence won’t be taken away. But if you get any more points within two years of passing your test, you will lose your licence.

If you lose your licence under the New Drivers Act, you must first apply for a provisional licence. A provisional licence means you must drive with:

  • L plates
  • a driver to accompany you who is at least 21 and has held a full licence for at least three years

You must not drive on any public road in Great Britain without a licence. If you drive without a valid licence, or disobey the conditions of a provisional licence, you face a penalty of up to £1,000.

If you don’t have a valid licence, your insurance won’t be valid. You’ll need to tell your insurance company immediately if you lose your licence under the Act.

If you want to get your full driving licence back you must:

  • pass the theory and practical driving tests again
  • exchange your provisional driving licence for a full one, after passing your driving test

In some cases, you may be ordered by the court to take a re-test as part of your penalty for the offence. If you pass this test, you get your licence back.

 

The Extended Driving Test

As a disqualified driver or rider, a court can order that you return to being a learner driver and take an extended practical driving test. The test is longer and more demanding and is aimed at checking your ability to drive.

Courts can order that you take an extended driving test if you’re convicted of dangerous driving offences or other offences involving necessary disqualification. At the end of your disqualification, you’ll need to:

  • apply for a provisional driving licence and drive as a learner
  • pass a theory test for the category of vehicle in which you intend to take an extended practical driving test
  • pass the extended practical driving test

The practical test lasts for about 70 minutes and covers a wide variety of roads, usually including dual carriageways. You are advised to prepare by taking suitable instruction from an approved driving instructor (ADI).

There are higher fees for extended tests, so you must make it clear when you apply for a test which type of test you want.

As a learner you must:

  • be supervised by a person who is at least 21 years old and has held (and still holds) a full driving licence for at least three years for the type vehicle you’re driving
  • display L plates ('L' or 'D' plates in Wales) to the front and back of the vehicle
  • not drive on a motorway
  • not drive a bus or lorry if you have only got a provisional car driving licence

 

Bad weather

Practical driving tests are not conducted in adverse weather conditions, for example when the roads are icy. This is for the safety of both the person taking the test and the examiner.

If you are due to take your practical test, follow the advice given on your appointment email or letter. Only call your test centre if there is snow or ice in your local area on the day of your test.

If your test is early in the morning, call as soon as you can on the day. If you call the day before, the test centre won't be able to tell you if your test will go ahead. If your test is in the afternoon, call the test centre later in the morning. The test centre is more likely to know if the roads will be suitable for your test.

If nobody answers the phone, and the conditions in your area aren't looking too bad, it's likely that the driving examiners are:

  • checking the local roads to see if driving tests can go ahead
  • taking driving tests because the conditions are suitable

However, this isn't a guarantee that your test will go ahead. Please call the test centre again or go there in time for your test.

If your practical driving test is cancelled because of bad weather, another appointment will be arranged automatically at no further cost. However, DVSA doesn't pay any out-of-pocket expenses. A new appointment date is usually sent within three working days. This may take up to seven days when there's a period of prolonged bad weather.

As well as causing cancellations, bad weather can lead to longer waiting times in some areas. DVSA tries to keep waiting times as short as possible. If DVSA cancels your test at short notice, you might be able to claim out-of-pocket expenses however, DVSA does not pay expenses if your test is cancelled because of:

  • bad weather
  • vehicle problems

 

Theory test (including Hazard Perception)

The theory test is made up of a multiple-choice part and a hazard perception part. You need to pass both parts to pass the theory test. If you pass one part and fail the other you'll fail the whole test, and you'll need to take both parts again.

Before the test starts you'll be given instructions on how it works and you can choose to do a practice session of multiple-choice questions to get used to the layout of the test. At the end of the practice session the real test will begin.

A question and several possible answers will appear on a computer screen - you have to select the correct answer. Some questions may need more than one answer. You can move between questions and 'flag' questions that you want to come back to later in the test.

Within the test some questions will be given as a case study. The case study will:

  • show a short story that five questions will be based on
  • focus on real life examples and experiences that you could come across when driving

You will be allowed 57 minutes to complete the multiple-choice test and the pass mark is 43 out of 50. After the multiple-choice part you can choose to have a break of up to three minutes before the hazard perception part starts. Before you start the hazard perception part, you'll be shown a short video clip about how it works.

You'll then be shown a series of video clips on a computer screen. The clips:

  • feature everyday road scenes
  • contain at least one developing hazard - but one of the clips will feature two developing hazards

A developing hazard is something that may result in you having to take some action, such as changing speed or direction.

The earlier you notice a developing hazard and make a response by clicking the mouse, the higher you will score. The most you can score for each developing hazard is five points.

To get a high score you need to:

  • respond to the developing hazard during the early part of its development
  • press the mouse button as soon as you see a hazard developing

You won't be able to review your answers to the hazard perception test.

If you click continuously or in a pattern during a clip a message will appear at the end. It will tell you that you have scored zero for that particular clip.

As an example of when to respond to a hazard think of a parked car on the side of the road. When you first see it, it isn't doing anything - it's just a parked car. If you respond at this point, you wouldn't score any marks, but also you wouldn't lose any marks.

When you get closer to the car, you notice that its right-hand indicator starts to flash. This would make you think that the driver of the car is going to move away. The hazard is now developing and a response at this point would score marks. The indicator coming on is a sign that the car has changed from a potential hazard into a developing hazard. When you get closer to the car, you'll probably see it start to move away from the side of the road. You should make another response at this point.

The Hazard Perception test contains 14 Video clips which will contain 15 developing hazards. The pass mark is 44 out of 75.

At the end of the test you can answer some customer survey questions. You don't have to answer them if you don't want to, and they won't affect the result of the test. When you have finished the test you can leave the test room - but you won't be able to go back in. You'll then be given your result by the test centre staff.

If you pass your theory test, you'll get a pass certificate. You'll need this when you book and take your practical test, so it's important that you keep it safe. Your theory test pass certificate runs out after two years of passing your test. If you have not passed your practical test by then, you'll need to take and pass the theory test again.

Link to book theory test:

https://www.gov.uk/book-a-driving-theory-test

 

Change your practical test booking

You can only change your test three times - after that, you need to cancel your test and book a new one. You can change your test time or date, as long as your driving instructor is available on the new time and date.

If you change the test booking within three clear working days of your original test date, you'll have to pay an extra fee. To change your test booking online, you need two of these three details:

  • your valid Great Britain or Northern Ireland provisional driving licence number
  • your application reference number
  • your theory test pass certificate number

If you have changed your test booking three times and the appointment is still not suitable, you'll have to cancel your test and book a new one. You'll get a refund when you cancel your test if you give three clear working days' notice. Sunday is not counted as a working day.

Link to managing your test:

https://www.gov.uk/change-date-practical-driving-test

 

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