It’s one of the biggest frustrations of urban motoring – a timid driver blocks the road in both directions as they tentatively drive backwards and forwards while attempting an ill-conceived three-point turn.
But the manoeuvre could soon be dropped from the driving test under plans announced by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA).
The biggest shake-up of the test in 20 years could result in the “turn in the road” – as it is officially known – and “reverse around a corner” being dropped in favour of tests such as reversing out of a parking bay and rejoining the flow of traffic after pulling over.
Learners may also be tested on the use of satnavs in new skills added to the assessment.
But the RAC warned that the ability to perform a three-point turn was a “valuable” skill and hoped a suitable replacement would be included before it is “cast into driving test history”.
The DVSA said that about 1,000 learner drivers across the UK will be asked to take part in a trial of new practical exam measures.
A spokesman for the agency said: “We are carrying out research to explore how the driving test could better reflect real-life driving. Any future changes would be subject to full public consultation.”
The Driving Instructors Association (DIA), the largest industry body representing driver and rider trainers, welcomed the plans to review the test.
DIA chief executive Carly Brookfield said: “We have been heavily involved in this project and are enthusiastic about the opportunity it presents to evolve the test to a level where it more realistically assesses a candidate’s ability to competently and safely manage road- based risk and driving in real life, on real roads.”
RAC Foundation director Professor Stephen Glaister said: “We all rely on our satnavs but they are not infallible and it is when they have led us down a dead end that we need to know how to do a three-point turn.
“It’s fine to add some aspects to the test but we should be cautious about removing the basics, especially when they continue to catch so many people out.”
More than half of the 1.5 million practical tests taken last year were failed. The top three reasons were “errors made in observation at junctions; using mirrors; and steering control”, the RAC Foundation said.
Joe Bangudu, of Uncle Joe’s driving school in Manchester, said the ability to perform a three-point turn was sometimes a sign of the “confidence of the driver”. Motorists could also find themselves in difficulty if they chose the wrong place to try the manoeuvre, he added.
However, it is not the biggest bugbear for most learner drivers.
“Reverse parking is more challenging from my experience,” Mr Bangudu said. “Turn in the road is a more straightforward thing. I don’t suppose a lot of people find it difficult.”
He said the proposed test appeared to be a “good thing”. “It’s more to reflect everyday driving rather than staged situations – that’s the point. It’s going in the right direction.”Reuse content