Independent driving was introduced into the car driving test in October 2010.
The idea is to give the candidate the experience of finding their way somewhere without being told step by step. Previously on test and also while learning with an instructor it was just a case of following instructions as you go along, e.g. take the next road on the left, turn right at the traffic lights or go straight ahead at the roundabout. For the rest of the test when you are not driving independently this will still be the case.
It can take two forms:
1. Following road signs to a destination or
2. By way of a simple diagram showing the route required to take.
It could also be a combination of the 2.
How long will independent driving last in the test? Independent driving should last approximately 10 minutes. This may be shorter or longer depending on the route taken and traffic flow.
What happens if I go the wrong way?
Nothing. You are being assessed on your driving not on your ability to remember a set of instructions. As long as you don’t do anything that would result in a driving fault the examiner will just readjust the route.
If I am shown a diagram will it be easy to follow?
Yes. There should be a maximum of 3 instructions per diagram. It will not be to scale; it is just to highlight the main points of the route. The examiner will talk you through the diagram, may ask you to repeat it back to them and will ask you if you are happy/understand before asking you to drive on. Once you have completed the instructions on the diagram just keep following the road ahead until given further information. They may ask you to follow another diagram in which case they will ask you to pull over at a convenient place on the left before showing you the next diagram.
What happens if I forget when I start driving?
No problem. As with any part of the test you can ask the examiner to repeat anything you have forgotten or don’t understand.
My friend told me it is always at the start of the test. Is that right?
No. Independent driving can be at any point in the test, in fact you might do a section of it, continue with normal driving and then return to it again later. Just listen to the examiner and follow their last instructions. They will make it very clear.