Sat Nav

We’re all now aware of the new driving test changes that were introduced late last year. Many aspects of the traditional practical test were modernised and some factors, such as less used manoeuvres, were removed. One of the biggest and most talked about changes was the additional minutes added to the independent drive in which you are required to use a sat nav. Using a sat nav during your test can be hugely beneficial in the future as it teaches you how to operate the technology from the very start.

Tips For Using A Sat Nav During Your Test

Your independent drive can be at any point of your practical test, whether this may be at the start, middle or end. Every examiner will use the same model sat nav, they will supply you with all equipment and will also set everything up for you. All test routes will be pre-programmed before your test, and your examiner will pick the necessary route just before your set off. You will not be required to touch or operate the sat nav at any point, simply follow the route your examiner has set for you.

If you go the wrong way or miss an instruction from the sat nav, it will not affect your test; you will not receive a major or a minor. As long as you can stay calm and do not panic then run into an issue, the examiner will not take it into account. Even if you go in the wrong direction, the sat nav will automatically redirect and locate a new route to get you to the same destination.

The independent drive section is all about showing you can use your initiative and remain a confident driver, the same as it always has been, so don’t let the sat nav throw you off. If you are approaching your test, then take a look at these top tips for using a sat nav during your test.

Driving Test Sheet

Keep Your Eyes On The Road

A sat nav should only ever be used as a reference point, never stare at the screen instead of the road ahead. Your examiner will place your device in a position on the dashboard that will make sure that you will not have to fully take your eyes off the road to see the next set of directions. It reassures the examiner that you will not be distracted and only take a quick glance now and again to reiterate the direction you’ve just heard.

Similarly to when driving in any other scenario, be aware of your surroundings at all time. Keep a particular eye out for vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and cyclists as they can easily be missed within seconds.

Research shows that listening to directions rather than watching them step by step helps you to remember the route for further journies. It means that you will learn how to get to destinations quicker without having to put your full reliance on the sat nav.

Keeping your eyes on the road is also vital when approaching roundabouts. The sat nav will inform you in advance how many miles there is until the next roundabout. As you get closer, always keep an eye out for any road marking letting you know what lane you need to be in to go in each direction. Sat navs do not always tell you information like this, so you need to be proactive and find out for yourself. Do not worry if you are placed in the wrong lane in your test, as mentioned previously; the sat nav will redirect its route.

Trust Road Signs

Road signs and road markings are always accurate, sav navs unfortunately, are not. We often hear of many occurrences where a sat nav or GPS system has directed a driver in completed the wrong way, leaving them stranded in a field or place they are not familiar with, neither of which is the destination they required. If you see a road sign such as a one-way road or no entry sign, yet your sat nav is directing you in that direction, please do not continue to drive, it may leave you in a tricky or dangerous situation. Trust road signs, if they are directing you a different way to the sat nav, follow their directions, again the sat nav will redirect to suit.

No Entry Sign


It may seem as if practising time after time again is the answer to everything, but it is honestly the best way to perfect something new. The more you practice, the more it will start to become second nature, and we promise you will wonder why you ever let it stress you out.

Don’t wait until the week or lesson before you practical test to familiarise yourself with using a sat nav, start learning in advance. If you test is closely approaching and your instructor still has not walked you through using a sat nav, mentioned it to them and ask them whether this can be your priority in your next lesson.

You must get used to the terminology a sat nav uses to give directions, it is more than likely very different from the way in which you are used to with your instructor. One of the most prominent differences between the two is the instructions when approaching a roundabout. It is extremely unlikely that the sat nav will use terms such as ‘turn left, ‘turn right’ or ‘go straight on’. Instead, it will say ‘take the first exit’ or ‘take the second exit’ and so on. When you are first getting used to the new terminology, you may want to take a quick glance at the sat nav when you initially hear the instructions to understand what exit you are being instructed to take.

A sat nav will inform you on both your next set of directions along with the number of miles until it approaches, which means you must get used to acting on instructions one after another. This may prove tricky in busy areas, mainly if you are driving through a town or city centre. For example, cities such as Sheffield have many side streets, narrow one-way roads and mini roundabouts, so if you are taking driving lessons in Sheffield, you must get used to acting on up to three instructions one after another.

One Way Sign

Do Not Touch The Sat Nav

Touching the sat nav while driving at any point in your test will result in an automatic fail. A sav nav is an electronic device, so is treated the same way as talking on the phone and driving. If a problem occurs or a warning notification pops up, inform your examiner, and they will then continue to let you know what to do next, whether this may be to pull over and resolve the problem or carry on driving using manual instructions.

Finally, Stay Calm!

The use of a sat nav in your test is ultimately making driving a more straightforward task for you, it informs you exactly where to go next with visual explanations as well as spoken. If you are unsure of your surroundings or want to know where the sat nav is taking you, you can ask your examiner for reassurance. It will not affect your practical test.