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Driving Instruction: Standards

Volume 476: debated on Monday 19 May 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what recent steps the Government have taken to improve the standards of newly-qualified drivers; (205768)

(2) what recent steps the Government has taken to reduce the number of road traffic accidents caused by newly-qualified drivers.

On 7 May 2008, we launched the Driving Standards Agency’s Learning to Drive consultation, which sets out proposals for the reform of driver education, training and testing. The reforms will better prepare newly qualified drivers for modern driving conditions and help reduce collisions and casualties:

Key elements in our proposals are as follows.

A new pre driver foundation qualification in safe road use, with a course piloted in schools and colleges in Scotland from this autumn.

More thorough and effective learning to drive arrangements underpinned by a new learning to drive syllabus setting out the knowledge, skills and attitudes needed to be a safe and competent driver. This will be supported by a student workbook. We are trialling new ways for people to develop safe attitudes including an attitude advisor, which can assess driver’s approach to risk and help guide training programs. We shall be investigating new ways of learning and training, including driver discussion groups, as well as improved in-car training arrangements.

Improved driving tests. We are investigating changes to both our theory and practical tests to ensure drivers meet the standards we require before qualifying for a full licence.

We are researching our theory test so it provides a better assessment of understanding, perhaps by using case studies. We shall research possible changes to the Hazard Perception Test to improve its safety effects. We have sought views on whether we should continue to publish the theory test question bank.

We are trialling possible changes to the practical test so that it provides a better guide to whether a learner has reached the standard to drive unsupervised. These changes include introducing independent driving, situational judgment, changes to the way specific manoeuvres are tested and switching from a fault based marking system to one that focuses on positive evidence on competence.

We are investigating improved feedback arrangements for all our tests. We are also looking at splitting the theory and practical tests into modules, to enable learners to pass elements as they are ready.

New opportunities to take further training and qualifications. We shall work with the insurance industry and employers whose employees drive in the course of their work to develop new courses and qualifications that they value, leading to lower insurance premiums and improved job prospects.

Star ratings for driving instructors so that learners can make an informed choice about the driver training services on offer and which are suitable for them.

Improved training and testing arrangements for driving instructors, both when they qualify initially and subsequently, to ensure they are well placed to provide a quality service in the new environment.

Copies of the consultation paper are available in the Libraries of the House.