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Driving test changes considered amid advances in driverless car technology

Published 12/05/2016

The advance of driverless cars could see driving tests change
The advance of driverless cars could see driving tests change

Changes to the driving test are being considered in response to the development of driverless cars.

Several reforms to lessons and practical tests are already being piloted in a bid to make them more realistic.

But a Government report reveals that alternations will also be made as driverless car technology becomes more prevalent on Britain's roads.

The Department for Transport's (DfT) motoring services strategy stated : "D VSA will reform the driving test (and, thereby, pre-test learning) to encourage more real life driving experience and ensure that it takes account of local variations and increasing vehicle automation."

Steve Gooding, director of motoring research charity RAC Foundation, said the policy shows that ministers "have their eyes firmly on the road ahead".

He went on: "T he day will come when levels of automation could mean that programming the destination might be the only thing we do before sitting back and enjoying the ride in our driverless car.

"We are not there yet but it's good to see the rapidly changing face of motoring being considered."

Transport minister Lord Ahmad said: "T he way in which we drive is changing. The (motoring) agencies must adapt to the way we live now."

Chancellor George Osborne announced plans in March's Budget for trials which will allow driverless cars on motorways next year.

Test drives will begin on a small number of local roads before pilots on motorways to assess safety are carried out in 2016.

Some engineers suggest that driverless cars, which can alert drivers to accidents and traffic jams, could eventually prevent 95% of crashes.

The DfT's strategy document also demonstrates the Government's commitment to implement previously proposed changes such as allowing learner drivers on motorways with a qualified instructor and expanding the number of test slots available outside of daytime weekday hours.

AA president Edmund King said: "These are generally sensible proposals. Greater driving test flexibility will ease the roadblock on new drivers.

"We hear much about school tests in the news but in many respects the driving test is just as important a life skill as academic tests."

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