independent driving

Independent driving section of the practical test.

Your practical car driving test will include approximately 10 minutes of independent driving.

Independent driving explained

During the test you will be asked to drive independently by either following:

  • Traffic signs
  • A series of directions
  • A combination of both

To help you understand where you are going when following verbal directions, the examiner will show you a diagram.

View an example of an independent driving route diagram (PDF, 305K)

It doesn’t matter if you don’t remember every direction from the diagram, or go the wrong way.  Independent driving is not a memory test or a test of your navigational skills.

It just means you have to make your own decisions, these include when it’s safe and appropriate to ask the driving examiner for confirmation of where you are going.

Watch a video about independent driving below,


Independent Driving Route

If you ask for a reminder of the directions, the examiner will confirm them to you.If you go off the independent driving route it won’t affect the result of your test unless you commit a driving fault.

If you go off the route or take a wrong turning, the examiner will help you to get back on the route and continue with the independent driving.

If there are poor or obscured traffic signs, the examiner will give you directions until you can see the next traffic sign - you won’t need to have a detailed knowledge of the area. You can’t use a sat nav for independent driving as it gives you turn-by-turn prompts.

Independent driving tests how you make your own decisions.

Special Needs

The Driving Standards Agency (DSA) has procedures to identify special needs and disabilities when tests are booked online or over the phone. The examiner then knows which type of special needs you have so reasonable adjustment can be made.

For the independent driving section, this could be by asking you which method you prefer - following traffic signs or a series of directions (a maximum of three), which are supported by a diagram. In some cases this may be shortened to just two directions.

Driving examiners are very experienced at dealing with candidates who speak little or no English. For example, sometimes they will write place names so it is clear to you where you’re being asked to drive to.

You can have an interpreter along with you on your test if you wish. Your approved driving instructor can act as your interpreter.



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