British Cycling, The Association of Bikeability Schemes (TABS), Cycling Scotland, Cycling UK, and the London Cycling Campaign have submitted a joint response to the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) on proposed changes to the driving test, calling for all drivers to be observed interacting with people cycling during their test.
The DVSA wants to reduce the number of people killed or seriously injured on Great Britain’s roads by making sure newly-qualified drivers are better prepared for driving. The proposal seeks to better assess the candidate’s ability to drive independently.
It recommends new elements in the driving test including increasing the ‘independent driving’ part of the test from 10 to 20 minutes and to ask candidates to follow directions from a satnav.
British Cycling campaigns manager, Martin Key said:
“Our members tell us that drivers overtaking too close to them is one of the biggest concerns they have about cycling on the road. The driving test is the only opportunity to examine people’s understanding of how to share the road with cyclists so it must be part of every practical test.”
The consortium of national cycling organisations represents the interests of around 250,000 members and supporters. The group’s main recommendation is that drivers are observed interacting with people cycling (where people cycling are present in the test location) as part of the revised driving test.
The group are in total agreement with DVSA’s proposal to increase the independent driving section of the test from 10 to 20 minutes.
David Dansky, director of TABS explains:
“As local and national government do more to encourage cycling due to all the benefits this brings to individuals and society, testing drivers interacting with people cycling will ensure that they drive in a manner that minimises risk to those people and helps them feel safe, thereby encouraging more people to cycle.”
The group is largely in agreement with the other DVSA proposed changes to the driving test, including the modification of the delivery of the manoeuvres in the test, and changing the format for the vehicle safety questions.
With a view to updating the test to current traffic conditions the organisations suggest, as an optional manoeuvre, a driver is tested overtaking someone on a cycle in a manner that ensures the person cycling is given enough room. In some circumstances the drivers should be observed not overtaking where overtaking would be risky, unnecessary or illegal.
Neil Greig, Policy & Research Director of IAM RoadSmart states that: “IAM RoadSmart supports a greater focus on sharing the road safely with cyclists and the best place to start is with the driving test."
The consortium calls on the DVSA to recognise that cycling is increasing in the UK; drivers are more likely than ever to encounter people on cycles while driving. Including these suggestions in any guidance to driving testers would ensure that many new drivers have been observed interacting with people on cycles during their test and will have demonstrated appropriate behaviour.
They also recommend that any changes to the test that refer to interacting with cyclists should also be filtered through to driving instructors who would be more likely to instruct their learner drivers about sharing the road with cyclists during driving lessons.
A copy of the response is available from TABS.