L-drivers face 'go-it-alone' test
Learner drivers will have to find their way to a destination without step-by-step instruction from the examiner in a significant change to the test.
They will have to drive for 10 minutes without the input of the tester and negotiate how to get somewhere themselves.
The aim of independent driving is to assess novices' ability to drive safely while making their own decisions. The change is introduced later this month.
Environment Minister Alex Attwood said: "The change I am launching today, while a significant addition to the familiar driving test, should hold no fear for candidates. In fact the new test reflects what they want. It is designed to ensure that novice drivers, once they acquire a licence, have the skills, knowledge and confidence to be able to drive on their own.
"Once they pass the test novice drivers will have to make their own decisions regarding when to drive, where to drive to, how to get there, and who to drive with whilst driving safely - these are all issues that will be addressed in the new independent driving section of the test.
"Independent driving assessment will encourage a sense of responsibility, awareness and individual decision-making amongst learner drivers, in order to prepare them when driving on their own."
Research has shown that many people who have passed their test still lack confidence to drive independently because they are used to step-by-step instructions.
John Doherty, chairman of the North West Approved Driving Instructors' Association, said: "This is a very positive development and gives the candidate the opportunity to experience what it is like to drive unaccompanied by presenting a realistic future driving requirement as an integral part of their test."