What is independent driving?

Independent Driving, Driving on Your own Test

Independent driving was introduced to the learners’ driving test in October 2010. The whole idea of implementing the independent driving to the learners’ test is to see how a candidate can cope with following a course of directions over a duration of 10 minutes. In December 2017, the independent driving part of the test was extended to 20 minutes. There is now a 1 in 5 chance that the examiner will give you verbal directions to follow road signs and there 4 in 5 chance you will be asked to drive independently following guidance from a Sat Nav.

The Sat Nav may be started at the beginning of the driving test or somewhere in the middle. It’s not uncommon for the Sat Nav to guide you back to finish at the test centre too.

The main thing to remember during this part of the test is that you are not being marked on your ability to follow directions, but how to drive safely. Ultimately, if you forget where you’re going, you’re better off ask the examiner what the next direction is early.

This is so you can safely manoeuvre your car correctly in the right direction without affecting and upsetting vehicles around you. If you are unsure of a Sat Nav direction, again, you can asking the examiner (as a last resort) to clarify.

Most people who fail during the independent driving part of the test do so because they get too caught up in following the directions and lose track of their lane discipline.

Another popular failing point is failing to signal on the approach to a junction when changing direction. Remember, people around you won’t know where you’re going without a signal.

Independent Driving Following Directions – A421 to Whaddon route:

Watch this video on the right for a complete fly on the wall insight as to how we prepare you for the independent driving part of your driving test. This video stars ‘Mark Rogers’ who is going over one of the independent driving test routes in Bletchley for the first time. Obviously as he becomes better, the instruction becomes less. This route is a very popular test route in the mornings – for more specific information regarding what test route you could get at particular times – ask your driveJohnson’s driving instructor.

Independent Driving Following Diagrams – Westcroft route:

There are two types of independent driving scenarios you may experience on the day of your driving test. Watch this video on the right to see ‘Mark Rogers’ during his driving lesson in Milton Keynes. He is attempting another driving test route within the Milton Keynes area. All of our test route videos are available – just ask your driveJohnson’s instructor for your username and password. Our test route videos are exclusive to driveJohnson’s pupils only.

Independent Driving Following Road signs – Simpson route:

Watch MK Dons and Wales under 18 star Mason Spence go over the Simpson test route following road signs. There is some instruction in areas where Mason and other pupil’s tend to make mistakes. If you would like access to all of our test route videos – just ask your driveJohnson’s instructor for the username and password.

Problems that may happen on the driving test with the Sat Nav

In certain areas, you may come across 2 junctions very close together. If you glance at the Sat Nav, it can be confusing which one you actually want. The Sat Nav should repeat the direction just before the turning but if you are unsure – ask the examiner.

The examiner may ask you to ignore the Sat Nav temporarily. Don’t worry, there might be a glitch in the settings or there could just be something like roadworks down the road the Sat Nav was going to take you on. Whenever the examiner intervenes, follow their guidance.

Sat Nav guidance may go over 20 minutes and in some cases up to 30 minutes. This isn’t ideal, but sometimes road and traffic conditions will make this happen. If it is a common occurrence then it is something the DSVA will usually address. If this happens to you, don’t worry. Keep following the Sat Nav until the examiner asks you not to.

Battery may run out on the Sat Nav. In this instance, the examiner should have a juice pack or battery charger and they will connect it to the Sat Nav. Failing that, they may give you directions verbally.

The Sat Nav may stop working, such as the volume doesn’t work. The examiner should intervene and give directions verbally.

The Sat Nav will often say “you have reached your destination.” Don’t change anything in your driving, unless the examiner asks you to. Carry on driving as usual until the examiner gives you a direction to follow. There have been reports of pupils on test slowing down or trying to pull up on the side of the road which has resulted in a dangerous driving fault.

Sometimes the Sat Nav may treat double mini-roundabouts as one. In some instances, the examiner may assist the pupil to guide them over the junction safely and then refer the pupil back to following the Sat Nav.

In the event the examiner positions the Sat Nav in a place that doesn’t suit you or makes it difficult for you to see the screen, you can request for it to be moved to a position that may suit you better, providing it doesn’t affect your view of the road.

TIP: It’s always safer to listen to the directions from the Sat Nav than to look at the display. If you are unsure then glance at the Sat Nav quickly, then recheck the road ahead. Avoid staring at the Sat Nav. Many pupils also come off the gas when looking at the Sat Nav, this isn’t so bad if you have checked the mirrors first and it’s okay or necessary to come off the gas, but many do it as a knee jerk reaction. With cars following behind you may receive a driving fault for progress or something else on the making sheet.

Below is a video released by the DVSA which explains what happens on the driving test including the independent driving.

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