By Alexandra Moerschner, Jessica Haworth, John Whitney & David Mayor
Manchester learner drivers are being asked to tackle major changes to the practical driving test head on from 4thOctober.
Changes were put in place nationally to allow examiners to better assess drivers readiness to apply their skills in the real world.
The new driving test has two major changes. Firstly drivers are required to carry out one driving manoeuvre instead of the previous two.
This is to allow more time for the new independent driving part of the test, which lasts around 10 minutes.
The candidate will be asked to drive to a destination following the traffic signs, driving completely unaided and unprompted.
Callum Woolams, 20, of Stockport, who passed the test on 5th October, said: “Going into it blind and not having people who’d even heard of it made me more nervous. I felt like a guinea pig.”
He added that he tried to book his practical before the changes but was unsuccessful, leaving a short period of time to practise the new test.
“In hindsight I shouldn’t have worried – it was much easier than I expected,” he said.
Withington-based A Plus driving instructor, Wayne Thomson, agreed with this sentiment.
“It’s not been an issue. There was a lot of fuss beforehand but essentially the test is the same,” he said. “In my opinion it is a good addition to the practical as it simulates more realistic conditions.”
But people who have yet to sit the test remain apprehensive.
Ola Amide, 47, of Didsbury, recently passed his theory test.
He explained he had been driving in Nigeria for over 20 years, but now that he lives and works in Manchester he has to acquire a UK License.
“I found the theory test quite easy but all the talk of a new practical test is making me quite nervous,” he said.
DSA’s Chief Driving Examiner, Trevor Wedge, said: “The test is being improved to help produce safer drivers, but that doesn’t mean it’s getting any harder.”
Further changes could be enforced following the Association of British Insurers call for a minimum learning period of one year.
ABI-commissioned research suggested three out of four people believe that this measure would reduce young driver road casualties.
ABI Director of General Insurance and Health, Nick Starling, said: “Introducing a longer and more structured learning period may frustrate some youngsters eager to get behind the wheel.
“But better this than they become another tragic statistic.”
Mr Woolams disagreed, adding: “This time period is completely unrealistic, I managed to pass the new test in just over three months.”
For further information about changes visit www.direct.gov.uk.