ON THE ROAD: Why does it take more than 40 hours to pass the modern driving test?

With Keith Gambles, Wokingham Driving School

Wokingham Driving School

A couple of weeks ago we had 21 young people (all under 17) have a go at driving, on a private track each for an hour.

In that time most achieved moving off, stopping, steering, gear changing and junctions, some also did reversing.

So why you ask, does it take on average 40+ hours to be good enough to pass a driving test when 17?

There are two main differences, on the track there is a lot of input and help from the instructors, but mainly once on real roads they have to deal with other motorists, roundabouts, complex junctions, dual carriageways, speed limits etc.

Things that the average driver does without much thought, but for a new driver, things like which gear, which lane, who goes first, where to stop, needs actual brain processing time.

We can only consciously process so much data, the rest needs to be subconscious.

This takes time and guidance.

Driving has changed a lot since many of us learnt to drive.

More cars on the road, more roundabouts, (mini-roundabouts), multi-lane junctions, speed humps, 20mph zones, cycle lanes, road rage, the list goes on.

The driving test has different manoeuvres, uses a sat nav, and is taken over a more complex course than I had.

So it is no wonder the modern learner needs more hours learning than when I learnt (1970s).

Then there is the Theory test (no longer a few pictures from the highway code at the end of the test), but a completely separate test that lasts an hour with questions on the highway code and other areas of car ownership.

We try to instil a reflective, problem-solving approach to driving, so the newly qualified driver can continue to develop their skills post-test within the framework they received while having lessons.

A normal situation for many Driving Instructors: Phone rings, “I’d like to book lessons for my Son/daughter, they’re 17 tomorrow, we have a licence, can you do a lesson on their birthday?”

Most Instructors are very busy, with packed diaries, we don’t know when your child will be 17, but, you do, so please book early (three months +).

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