UK Government

Driving Standards Agency (National): Real driving experience for learners

Press Release   •   Sep 09, 2010 14:00 BST

• Details of test routes to be withdrawn

• Skills boost for new drivers

• Countdown to independent driving

To help make the driving test more representative of real driving, the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) will no longer publish details of test routes, Road Safety Minister Mike Penning announced today.

Currently test routes used by each driving test centre are published online but this will stop when new routes are introduced at the beginning of October.

This change is being made to support the introduction of independent driving, which will allow candidates to demonstrate their ability to drive safely in more realistic driving situations rather than memorising a particular test route.

Mike Penning said:

"We want new drivers to be able to drive safely and independently and learning to drive test routes by rote isn't the way to achieve this.

"Stopping the publication of test routes will help to make sure that the driving test better reflects realistic driving conditions and will give new drivers the skills and confidence they need to stay safe on the roads."

DSA's Chief Driving Examiner Trevor Wedge said:

"Evidence shows that the biggest challenge newly qualified drivers face after passing their test is learning how to cope when they no longer have their instructor there to help and prompt them."

"We want to make sure that new drivers and riders are ready to make their own decisions when driving alone; learning how to do that in preparation for their test should lead to better and safer drivers."

To better assess whether a learner driver is ready to drive unsupervised, independent driving will be introduced into the test on 4 October 2010. Candidates will drive for about 10 minutes, without step-by-step direction from their examiner. This will involve either following a series of directions, following traffic signs, or a combination of both. To help candidates visualise the directions, the examiner may also show them a simple diagram. The remainder of the test is unchanged.

In January 2010, DSA published independent research showing that with careful route design, candidates were able to complete the independent driving tasks without any significant impact on pass rates. Additional research found widespread support for inclusion of independent driving in the practical test.


To request an interview, please contact DSA press office on 0115 936 6135 or  Isdn facility is available.

Notes to Editors

1. The report 'On the Road to Independence' is available at:

2. The Driving Standards Agency (DSA) is one of the Executive Agencies that forms the Motoring and Freight Services (MFS) group, within the Department for Transport. 

3. Information on road casualties is available from 

4. DSA promotes road safety through setting standards for drivers, riders and trainers, testing drivers and riders fairly and efficiently, maintaining the registers of Approved Driving Instructors; Large Goods Vehicle Instructors; Fleet Trainers; `Driving Instructor Trainers and Post Test Motorcycle Trainers; supervising Compulsory Basic Training (CBT) for learner motorcyclists; and driver education and the provision of learning resources. 

5. DSA is a trading fund with planned turnover of £201.4 million in 2010/11, largely funded through fees and revenue from other road safety initiatives. It delivers tests from over 400 practical driving test centres and 158 theory test centres.

6. DSA employs nearly 2,700 staff, of which almost 1,900 are driving examiners. In 2009/10 DSA conducted 1.5 million practical car tests, over 55,000 vocational tests. Over 8,500 motorcycle tests were delivered from 1 April 2009 to 26 April 2009. On 27 April 2009 the new, two part motorcycle test was introduced. 50,778 module one tests and 37,866 module two motorcycle tests were delivered between that date and 31 March 2009. A total of 1.5 million theory tests were carried out. At the end of 2009/2010 there were around 44,768 people on the Register of Approved Driving Instructors. 

7. DSA was one of the first Government agencies to introduce an online booking service at


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