Independent driving in the driving test

For most of your practical driving test you’ll have to follow instructions from your examiner as you go along. However, for a 10-minute section you’ll have to drive independently, which means he or she will give you an instruction and you’ll then have to work things out for yourself for a while.

The independent driving section isn't meant to test your navigating skills - if you take a wrong turn or get lost it won't count against you.  It's your chance to show that you can drive safely without constant instructions. However, if you get flustered and notch up any faults during this section, it will be marked as such.

At the start of the independent driving section you’ll be asked to pull over and your examiner will then tell you that you’ll have to drive independently until you’ve achieved your goal. There are two ways in which you might be asked to achieve that goal – but you won’t get any say in the decision-making process, and the examiner could choose a combination of the two. The two methods are:

  • Via road signs and markings, so the examiner might say “For the next ten minutes please follow the road signs to the leisure centre”.
  • Via a series of verbal directions, such as “drive along then take the second right, go straight ahead at the roundabout then take the first right”. If this method is chosen, the examiner will also show you a diagram before setting off.

If you forget any of the directions you’re allowed to ask the examiner to confirm them as you drive along. If any road signs are obscured, the examiner will help by saying something such as 'the sign's obscured here but you're meant to take the next right.

Key points

  • You can’t use a sat-nav to help you get to your destination.
  • If you’re dyslexic, and you explain this in advance, some extra help can be given.
  • If you’re deaf, and you say so beforehand, you can take a sign language interpreter with you and to choose the method of independent driving (of the two listed above).