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Driving organisation calls for broader, graduated test

Just passing the driving test doesn't equip young drivers to use the roads, says the Institute of Advanced Motorists. The charity wants to see a wider range of driving conditions included in the test, along with more about cycling.

The IAM is calling for the UK driving test to be revamped to make it more relevant to the real world risks that young drivers face. 

Currently the driving test does not include any testing of a driver’s ability to cope with country roads, poor weather or driving at night, even though those areas are the main risk factors in the first six months of solo driving. 

The IAM also wants to see the testing system make sure new drivers know how to behave around cyclists.

IAM’s director of policy and research, Neil Grieg told road.cc: "The IAM are very supportive of the current moves to include more cycling scenarios in the hazard perception test and cycling related questions in the theory test.

“We also want approved driving instructors to discuss cycling safety with learners and be quality assessed on that by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency to ensure it happens."

However, including awareness of cyclists in the practical test is tricky.

Grieg said: “It’s hard to see how any compulsory elements around cycling can be put into the practical test as you never know if you will be passing a cyclist or will have local cycling facilities to deal with during the test. In London it will inevitably be more crucial than in say a rural area but that would be reflected in the learner's experience anyway.”

More broadly, the IAM wants to see a process of graduated testing replace the current system in which drivers are allowed to drive after passing just one set of tests.

Greig said: “The driving test needs to become a much more integrated part of a graduated licensing system that picks up on best practice from around the world. For instance, Austria has a ‘second phase’ licensing system, where young drivers come back in the 12 months after the test for a further three interventions to examine attitude changes and skills.” 

The IAM say young male driver casualties have dropped by a third in in Austria as a result of the initiative. 

The organisation also supports a 12 month minimum learning period prior to taking the practical test, limits on peer passenger numbers, suggests that the practical test includes higher speed roads and supports a lower drink-drive limit for new drivers.

Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.

Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.

Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.

The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.