Northern Ireland

Driving test reform is announced

L - plate

A major change to the driving test has been announced by the Environment Minister Alex Attwood.

Candidates will now spend 10 minutes of the test driving to a destination without step by step instructions from the examiner.

The aim of this is to assess whether the candidates can drive safely whilst making decisions independently.

The change, the most significant since the test's introduction 50 years ago, will come into effect on 27 June.

Mr Attwood said: "The change I am launching, 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," he said.

"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.

The Chairman of the Driving Instructors stakeholder group, JJ Doherty said it was a very positive development.

"It 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."