We’ve all become used to having a sat-nav guiding us to our destination. It’s easy. All we need to do is drive and listen to the instructions. Over the last ten years, these devices have become increasingly sophisticated, to such a point that many of us simply can’t do without them. Experienced drivers can deal with sat-nav directions and make the decisions on the road that keep them safe. It’s all part of everyday driving.
For younger, or inexperienced motorists, demonstrating how they can drive independently has become a key part of the test in the last twenty years.
Back in 2015, the Government made it clear that they wanted drivers to be better prepared for when they go out on the road on their own. In the future, your test could see an increase of the independent driving section from just 10 minutes to 20. This might include using a sat-nav and following its instructions for the extra time. The change was announced earlier this year and it is scheduled to be included after an initial consultation concludes in August 2017.
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The trials that have been carried out so far represent some of the biggest changes to the driving test since the 1990s when the theory test was first introduced. Reversing around a corner is likely to be replaced by more ‘real life’ scenarios such as reversing into a parking bay or even navigating your way around a fast food drive-through. It could also involve using the car’s controls such as turning on the heating and switching on certain lights while driving, both of which are likely to be included.
With around 50% of us using technology such as sat nav, it makes sense to include it in the test. The aim, of course, is to ensure that drivers are better prepared for going out on the road independently. Making the test more realistic in this respect should give examiners a better understanding of the level of competency of each test subject.
How to Use a Sat-Nav Safely
While a sat-nav be a useful tool for getting to your destination on time, it can also be a distraction. One key problem is making sure that you use your own eyes and not depend too much on the sat navs computerised brain. There may be obstacles preventing you turning in a certain direction and, of course, there’s the question of programming and using all the different tools that are now available. Positioning of the sat-nav in your car is also a key issue – you don’t want it stuck to the windscreen where it can block your view of the traffic – and you certainly shouldn’t try to program your device while you are driving.
There’s not much doubt that sat nav driving will be added to the test at some point next year though examiners have an option to stay with the current sign following. The extra length of the independent driving section has been generally welcomed by driving associations and should make sure that, when you pass your test, the examiner is entirely confident that you are ready to go out on the road alone.
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