Having never wanted to drive, it was necessity rather than want that pushed me to learn when I was 20. Living miles from family and my office and with a baby in tow, it was hard to get around. Especially with a distinct lack of public transport nearby. What use is a bus at 9.20am when you you need to drop a baby to nursery and be at work by 9am? So learn to drive I did.
And considering my distinct lack of enthusiasm about driving I didn’t do too badly, if I do say so myself. Jumping in head first and buying myself a car after only a few lessons. I bought that little car in the March and by October I’d passed my test. I’m not so sure I’d fare quite so well now, despite having braved the roads when I lived abroad (which was rather scary). Even just the changes to the theory test send a shiver down my spine.
But now that little baby who pushed me to learn to drive all those years ago is 17 herself, thoughts of learning to drive have returned to the forefront of our minds. Much like the theory test, it seems the whole process of learning to drive is evolving as Kwik Fit point out in their handy new e-book about the rules of the road. So what is new?
- Motorway driving – while it’s not compulsory and isn’t yet included in the test, motorway driving is a possibility these days. I have visions of frightened 17 year olds palms sweating and clamped onto the steering wheel as they navigate the hell that is the M25. But preparing learners for every type of road they’ll be expected to drive upon after passing their test can only be a good thing right?
- Sat nav – the independent part of the driving test (is it wrong to admit I don’t actually even know what that is, told you I wouldn’t pass the test now!) can now feature following directions from a sat nav. I guess with the changes in technology this can only be a good thing. Although it’s hard not to imagine reams of learner drivers suffering the dreaded fate of a defective sat nav sending them miles in the wrong direction during their test.
- Graduated driving license – while this hasn’t been introduced yet, it’s said to be being trialed in Northern Ireland this year. It could involve a number of measures including limiting the number of passengers in a new driver’s car. Lower speed limits compared to other drivers, engine size restrictions, a curfew, lower alcohol limits than other drivers and the use of P plates for up to 2 years after passing their test. I’m in two minds about this proposal. Firstly, you either pass your test or you don’t. If you pass your test, surely that affords you the same rights as other road users? And while I think restricting engine size for example could be a good idea, proposing speed restrictions is quite frankly dangerous. You can’t have two different speed limits on the same road without it causing an accident surely. As for driving after consuming alcohol, let’s just ban it entirely shall we?
Other such changes include the addition of further categories to the MOT test. Changes to the highway code for overtaking cyclists and penalties for driving in closed lanes on smart motorways, among others. How many of these new road rules were you aware of? Do you think you’d pass your driving test if you had to take it again?
*In collaboration with Kwik Fit