What is the independent driving test?
The driving test lasts for approximately 40 minutes and used to incorporate 2 driving manoeuvres from the possible 4.
Since the introduction of the independent driving element that lasts for 10 minutes, one of the manoeuvres have been dropped and learners are requested to demonstrate 1 manoeuvre to the examiner instead of 2.
At some point into the test, the examiner will request that you park up and when the car is secured, they will explain to you that the independent driving phase will begin.
The examiner will show you a independent driving diagram or map as it is also referred to. This is a very simple line drawing map that is likely to include junctions, crossroads, roundabouts and possibly high speed dual carriageway roads if applicable to your test centre. If we look at the independent driving diagram to the right, an example of the examiners explanation is as follows:
'This is our current position (referencing to the arrow on the diagram), when you are ready, I would like you to move off and when we reach the roundabout, I would like you to turn right, second exit. After the roundabout, I would like you to take the second road on the right.'
The examiner will then ask you if you understand the directions and if you would like them to be repeated. If you are in any doubt, ask them to explain again.
Independent Driving Diagram
During the independent driving part of the test, the examiner will not be asking you any questions, although you are permitted to ask the examiner questions if you wish.
Independent driving rules
Essentially there are no rules for the independent driving part of the test. The point of independent driving is to see if you can follow road signs and markings whilst driving safely.
There are no rules stating that you must follow the diagram map correctly, in fact if you take a incorrect turn it has no impact on the result of your driving test. The examiner simply assesses your ability to keep calm and drive safely. If you have forgotten the directions whilst driving, ask the examiner where you should go, they will tell you. If you take a incorrect turn and are not sure where you are, the examiner will guide you back onto the independent driving routes by verbal directions.
Independent driving fail
Remember, you can't fail the independent driving element by taking a wrong turn. A learner driver may fail the entire test on independent driving because they become stressed and their driving becomes erratic. Try and keep calm and where ever you end up, whether still on the map or not, drive safely and you will pass this section of the driving test. Ultimately, if stress levels are becoming too much, pull over to the left in a safe, convenient and legal position and explain to the examiner that you need a few moments to get composed. The examiner understands that you are nervous and should be acceptable of this.
If you have successfully completed the first map, the examiner will request that you pull up on the left once again, they will now show you a second map to follow. The independent driving will use 2 or 3 maps and at the end, the examiner will once again request you park up and inform you that is the end of the independent driving part of the practical test.