In a move described by the Driving Standards Agency as an acknowledgement of the realities of modern life, it was announced that public resources would no longer be invested in attempting to prevent people from dangerous practices such as using mobile phones while driving and instead the driving test will be updated to ensure drivers could manage multi-tasking while in control of a vehicle.
‘It’s a desperately needed step’, claimed Samantha Henshawe, a DSA spokeswoman, ‘the number of accidents that occur while fumbling for a Bluetooth earpiece under the driver’s seat is rising exponentially, but learner drivers aren’t being equipped with the right skills. And really, when was the last time you heard of somebody even trying to reverse around a corner anyway?’
As part of the revised examination traditional manoeuvres such as the three-point turn and parallel parking will be replaced by maintaining a phone conversation about last night’s football while backing into a parking space on a busy High Street, and texting while overtaking on a dual carriageway. Other modern skills in the revised examination include the use of sat-nav — and ignoring it because you know a shortcut that’s not on the system — and navigating a full clockwise circle of a roundabout while scrolling in an anti-clockwise direction for suitable driving music on an iPod.
The DSA rejected complaints that new requirements for already qualified drivers to sit a refresher test covering the new road-skills would be a significant inconvenience, due to its decision to tailor the test for individuals to reflect their vehicle or their typical car use. ‘For example a busy parent would just need to pop in after picking up the kids on the school run and get them home without resorting to threats of violence to stop them from sulking, squabbling and flicking the examiner’s ears,’ explained Henshawe, ‘Or if you happen to own a Mercedes you’d simply be asked to attend the test centre with evidence of car ownership and a copy of the Highway Code. You would then be told to rip the booklet up before being examined to ensure you can make up your own rules of the road as you go along. I can’t see that being a challenge for most of them.’