Back on 4th December 2017, the UK standard practical driving test changed its terms, with one of the biggest changes being a section that includes following the instructions of a satellite navigation system.
From this date forward, all drivers are expected to complete a section of independent driving where they follow directions and instructions from a satellite navigation unit, commonly known as a sat nav.
The specific sat nav used throughout driving tests is the TomTom Start 52. This model has a large 5” screen, meaning that learners can easily see the map without having to focus too long on the screen, and it has a loud, clear voice, meaning that directions can easily be heard.
What you must remember
Regardless of what point in your test your examiner asks you to use the sat nav, there are a few rules you must stick to.
- Pull over first
If you have to enter a destination or use the touchscreen on the device, pull over safely to do this. Everything you do on your test has to be legal and safe; your examiner is unlikely to feel safe if you have your hands off the wheel and are typing in an address while still attempting to drive!
- Don’t focus on the screen
Look at the screen when it is safe to do so. Sat navs are not televisions, and you should only glance at the screen briefly when your attention does not need to be elsewhere. Once you have looked at the screen and understood the instruction, immediately look back at the road conditions to check that nothing has changed. Remember that sat navs give directions audibly too, so you can listen to the instructions and follow the guidance without even needing to look at the screen.
- Sat navs are just an aid
While sat navs can be extremely helpful, it is important to remember that they are not always accurate, and in no way should be followed over and above the conditions in front of you. Always be aware of the changing road conditions, and use your normal judgement to navigate the roads safely.You won’t be penalised for taking a wrong turn, and if you are unsure at any point in the test, ask the examiner for confirmation. They are there to help you as well as examine your driving skills.
Not everyone passes first time, and there is no shame in failing and retaking your test. However, one of the best ways to pass is to prepare and practice, so ensure that you feel 100% confident on everything that will be in the test before sitting it.