Transforming the practical driving test

  • Published: Transport Research Laboratory, July 2017
  • Authors: Helman, S., Wallbank, C., Chowdhury, S., Hammond, J., Kinnear, N., Buttress, S., Jenkins, R., Grayson, G.
  • Date Added: 12 Jan 2018
  • Last Update: 12 Jan 2018
  • Format: pdf


The aim of the study was to evaluate the impact of the revised practical driving test (based on changes proposed by the DVSA in 2014) on drivers’ experience on learning to drive, changes in attitudes, driving style and crash involvement.


Data were collected with the use of standardized interviews with learner drivers who had not taken the driving test before. Participants were invited by approved driving instructors from 32 test centres across Great Britain. Learners were then assigned either to the control group (supposed to take the existing practical test) or treatment group (supposed to take the revised practical test) on a pseudo-randomised basis.

Instructors were informed on the test type to which each of the participants was assigned, and were asked to instruct them accordingly. The first survey was conducted after passing their test and it was completed by 2,315 learners and the second one six months later and was filled in by 2,066 participants. In order to test for potential bias effects, national comparison was conducted additionally.

The first survey, in July 2016, was filled by 1,202 learners after passing their test and the other one after six months was completed by 593 respondents.

Key Findings:

  • There were no differences in the attitudes, confidence and driving style at six months post-test between British drivers who experienced the revised test (based on changes proposed by the DVSA in 2014) and those who received the existing one.

  • It was also noted that: “Having access to a vehicle owned by parents, relatives or friends (during the post-test period), higher confidence, reported likelihood of avoiding risky driving situations, and time spent with a driving instructor on country roads or driving independently while learning were all associated with lower collision risk post-test.

  • Time spent driving in busy town centres, frequency of driving for work, and being named on a ‘telematics’ insurance policy were all associated with higher collision risk post-test.” (Helman, Wallbank, Chowdhury, Hammond, Kinnear, Buttress, Jenkins & Grayson, 2017).