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Make cycle safety part of new driving test, capaigners urge

Government is consulting on changes to the driving examination

Learner drivers should be observed interacting with bicycles as part of their driving test, a group of campaigning organisations has said.

The Association of Bikeability Schemes (TABS), British Cycling, Cycling Scotland, Cycling UK, and theLondon Cycling Campaign have submitted a joint response to the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) on proposed changes to the driving test.

David Dansky, Director of TABS said: “As local and national Government do more to encourage
cycling for all the benefits this brings to individuals and society, testing drivers interacting with people cycling, will ensure that they drive in a manner that minimises risk to those people and helps them feel safe, thereby encouraging more people to cycle.”

The organisations suggest a driver is tested overtaking someone on a cycle in a manner that ensures the person cycling is given enough room. In some circumstances the drivers should be observed not overtaking where overtaking would be risky, unnecessary or illegal.

The consortium call on the DVSA to recognise that cycling is increasing in the UK; drivers are more
likely than ever to encounter people on cycles while driving. Including these suggestions in any
guidance to driver testers would ensure that many new drivers have been observed interacting with
people on cycles, during their test and will have demonstrated appropriate behaviour.

They also recommend that any changes to the test that refer to interacting with cyclists should also
be filtered through to driving instructors who would be more likely to instruct their learner drivers about sharing the road with cyclists during driving lessons.

The government has launched a consultation on changes to the driving test, which include plans to

  •     increase the ‘independent driving’ part of the test from 10 to 20 minutes
  •     ask candidates to follow directions from a sat nav during the ‘independent driving’ part
  •     replace the ‘reverse around a corner’ and ‘turn in the road’ manoeuvres with more real-life scenarios, eg driving into and reversing out of a parking bay
  •     ask 1 of the 2 vehicle safety questions (known as the ‘show me, tell me’ questions) while the candidate is driving, eg asking them to use the rear heated screen

DVSA Chief Executive, Gareth Llewellyn, said: “Great Britain’s roads are among the safest in the world. But there’s still more that we can do to keep road users safe - particularly newly-qualified drivers.

“Making sure that the test better assesses a driver’s ability to drive safely and independently is part of our strategy to help every driver through a lifetime of safe driving.

DVSA Chief Driving Examiner, Lesley Young, added: “Candidates will be given more responsibility for making decisions during the test. We want them to show they can cope with distractions and assess risk without the intervention of their instructor or examiner.”

It’s a year since we reported how the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) called for the UK driving test to be revamped to make it more relevant to the real world risks that new 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 "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."


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