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UK Driver training and testing to be overhauled

7 May 2008

New proposals to reform the way people learn to drive and how they are tested have been announced by Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly.

Road deaths and serious injuries have fallen by 33% since the mid 1990s, but the casualty rate for young drivers has not changed - more than three hundred newly-qualified drivers and their passengers were killed in accidents in 2006. One in five people have an accident within six months of passing their test, and another 70% report near- misses in the same period. Alongside this newly-qualified drivers and their passengers account for one in five of all car deaths in Britain .

The aim of the consultation is to create safer drivers for life by strengthening the current learning and testing procedures, and creating a culture of extended and advanced learning. This follows extensive discussions with young people, employers, driving instructors and the insurance industry.

The consultation includes proposals for:

  • A new foundation course, to be piloted in schools and colleges in Scotland from this Autumn, leading to a qualification on safe road use being offered across Great Britain;
  • A more focused and thorough learning process before the driving test, which focuses not just on vehicle control but also the wider skills needed to be a safe driver, from driving in difficult conditions (for example at night or in poor weather) to learning to predict and respond to other road users' intentions;
  • A new training syllabus to ensure learners understand what is required of them to become a responsible driver, enable them to undertake structured and efficient learning and accurately assess when they are ready to pass their driving test;
  • An improved driving test which requires the driver to demonstrate independent driving skills and clear understanding of different situations on the road, with the option of modular assessment;
  • New opportunities to take extra training post test; working with the insurance industry and employers in the driving for work sector we will develop new courses and qualifications to be taken after the driving test that could lead to lower premiums and a better chance of securing a career in the driving for work sector;
  • A star-rating system for driving instructors so that learners can make an informed choice based on pass rates and the level of training instructors have undergone;
  • A review of driving instructor training and testing to ensure they provide a quality service and are focused on those areas of driving performance that are closely linked to safe driving.

A summary of the proposals and links to appropriate research documents can be found here

The full consultation document can be downloaded from the DSA web site

DFT is holding many events across England, Scotland and Wales. The events are free of charge, but you need to book a place.

Numbers are limited and places are allocated on a first-come-first-served basis. If you turn up on the day without having reserved a place you run the risk of not being let in.

DFT is keen to talk to as many people as possible, so that it can hear lots of different views and opinions. They also want to give everyone the opportunity to hear about the proposed changes in person and to discuss the changes directly with the Learning to Drive team if they wish.

There are two types of events:


Stakeholder events are for driving professionals in the local area such as driving instructors, police or road safety officers.

General Public

General Public events are for anyone who is interested in hearing about the Learning to Drive changes that is not a driving professional and would like the chance to express their views.

To book click on: The DSA Learning to Drive web site.

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