Note that the way the Part 3 is conducted and scored is going to change. At the moment, the official date for the change has been given only as “late October”, but I am writing this update in mid-October and nothing has been confirmed yet. DVSA has already said that Parliamentary approval is needed before the change can be introduced, and the way that often goes it might not be this October they were thinking of!
Update 1 November 2017: An email alert from DVSA advises that they STILL haven’t got Parliamentary approval and everything is still up in the air.
The new Part 3 marking sheet can be downloaded here.
The section below is the original article from January 2014, with the old PSTs linked to as a PDF file.
The blog gets a lot of hits from people looking for the PST (ADI 26) marking sheets used on the Part 3 ADI test. In fact, this file has been downloaded many hundreds of times, yet I think less than half a dozen people have bothered to say thank you – even though I know that it is very difficult to get hold of these from anywhere else.
You can download them by clicking the PDF image on the left. The file contains all ten PSTs, and they’re full-sized, so you can print them out if you want to.
The PSTs are also given in the Driving Instructor’s Handbook, although much smaller. But you can see what’s on them at least – which is really all that matters.
Just one last word on the “thank you” thing. If you have anything like the same approach when you start teaching real pupils you may find you don’t stay in business very long.
This story was published in June 2013. I’ve updated it because of some recent activity involving the registration number MAF1E.
I only reported this a few days ago, but The Sun is in on the act now. Surprisingly, The Sun story is actually more accurate than all the others. The Sun article carries this graphic, which is quite useful.
Although it focuses on middle-lane hogs in the text (like everyone else does), the graphic makes it clear that the following examples of careless driving would also be included in the new legislation:
- bad lane discipline (which includes middle-lane hogging)
- not giving way at junctions
- wheel-spins and handbrake turns
- wrong lane on roundabout
- inappropriate speed
- overtaking and queue-jumping
- ignoring “lane closed” signs
Also, and in spite of what some of the other stories reported or implied, the changes do not specifically apply to motorways. They will apply to all roads.
The term “careless driving” encompasses “driving without due care and attention”. The definition is quite wide, but in a nutshell you’d be guilty of driving without due care and attention if the care and skills you demonstrated in an incident were less than that which could have been expected of a reasonable, prudent, and competent driver.
The media stories give the impression that someone somewhere has specifically decided to crack down on tailgating and lane-hogging (these feature in just about every media survey of peoples’ pet hates). In fact, what they have actually decided is that getting too close to the vehicle in front and poor lane discipline – both of which you could still be prosecuted for even now – will become manageable by FPNs. That’s where the police can slap you with a fine and 3 points by the roadside. Poor lane discipline in particular covers more than just middle-lane hogging.
And it isn’t just those two things that will be included, either. People who drive dangerously through inattention, or just because they’re bad drivers, are also potentially walking a tightrope. Personally, I’ve lost count of the number of people who habitually get into the wrong lane at roundabouts and then – deliberately or otherwise – try to move across while they’re on it. Or those who cannot stay in position and cut across you (that’s an almost guaranteed test fail, and Mafie (reg. no. MAF1E, or MAF 1E) in her big-ass 4×4 on the Ring Road on Sunday should bear this in mind in future – not to mention what constitutes an illegal number plate).
Pulling out of junctions without looking properly is also on the hit list, as is showing off and driving too slowly.
Edit: Worth pointing out that I saw Mafie up to her old tricks again a few days ago (July 2013). She was on Bobbers Mill Road trying to do a U-turn across four lanes of traffic using a junction on the opposite side of the road to where she was. Absolutely no consideration for anyone except herself. She could easily have driven a few hundred metres and turned around safely – and much more quickly. This woman is incapable of driving safely – let alone of safely driving a huge 4×4.
Edit: Someone has recently (October 2015) been searching for “number plates” and “maf1e”. I did a quick check on Google to see what “maf1e” brings up and that registration number appears to be quite mobile. Someone posted a photo of a BMW X6 on a website which is similar to my Hall of Shame, with a badly parked BMW X6 in Southampton. Here it is.
To be honest, I can’t remember what model the 4×4 was in Nottingham, but it could have been an X6.
Then it gets even more curious. Apparently, there is a Rolls Royce Wraith with the registration number MAF 1E. Here’s that, dated 2012.
I’d love to know how this works. You see, as far as I know you can only use a given number plate – like MAF1E – on one specific vehicle. You can transfer it, of course, but not immediately (it takes between 4 days and six weeks, and involves changes to paperwork).
At the moment, assuming that the MAF1E I’ve seen screwing up (twice in 2013) is not the same MAF1E seen in Southampton (in 2011), the Rolls Royce (2012) and the Nottingham MAF1E appear to be driving around with the same plate – at the same time.
It’s possible that the 2011 4×4 sold its plates to the Rolls Royce in 2012, then he subsequently sold them again in 2013. In fact, as I write this, MAF1E is available to buy for about £5,400. Maybe the rich and stupid really do move these things around every few months.
Originally written in 2010, but updated due to the number of hits it is receiving.
I get a lot of hits from people using the search term “how to find driving test cancellation slots”. The test wait has been as low as a couple of weeks up this way. At the moment it is at least 10 weeks, and from what I can gather it is almost double that in some places around the country.
I’m not sure exactly how DVSA allocates its available slots, but it seems that they have standard ones which are always available until someone books them. However, they also release additional blocks of test slots periodically, and these suddenly appear in the timeline even when all the original ones at the same times have been taken. It is possible that these are initially reserved for some reason, but then get released when it is clear they aren’t needed (it might also have something to do with manipulating the official waiting times – you can’t say the waiting time is 10 weeks if they always release extra blocks which are only 5 weeks away).
Test slots which require examiner overtime also appear in the timeline at short notice, and I assume that this happens because they don’t know too far in advance who is available to work overtime. Having worked in the rat race and experienced this sort of thing, it is also very likely that they have to get permission for overtime, and this is only granted on a short term basis.
And then there are other people like you. They’ve booked a test, but then find that they can’t make it for some reason, or perhaps they aren’t ready. So they cancel it, and straight away it appears in the timeline for someone else to book.
In summary, tests slots come and go for all sorts of reasons. But the closer they are, the quicker they get taken – and that’s the thing you need to understand if you’re going to find a cancellation (though by “cancellation” I mean any slot which becomes available some time after the initial ones have all been taken).
You simply have to be in the right place at the right time!
The “right place” is logged into the DVSA’s booking system. The “right time” is more difficult to pin down, so you need to log in and check regularly. The oftener the better.
Should I use a test cancellation booking service?
Short answer: no. They can’t do anything more than you could do for yourself – but they charge you extra for it without making that as clear as they should. But let’s be honest: most of them are trying as hard as they possibly can to hide that fact from you without actually breaking any specific Law. They’re as close to being scammers as you can get.
Some test centres don’t ask candidates to do a bay park, and it’s no secret that in those areas a fair number of ADIs don’t bother teaching it either. It’s even more interesting when you consider that DVSA is about to start trials which could involve the driving test changing at some point, and these changes might well involve “new” manoeuvres like driving into and reversing put of a bay. I wonder how that will work at these centres which can’t do bay parking? Will it be yet more stuff for substandard instructors not to have to teach to their unfortunate pupils?
Before Nottingham’s Colwick MPTC opened none of the extant centres had suitable parking facilities for conducting the bay park exercise, and candidates were never asked to do it. When the MPTC opened – and so bay parking was on the agenda in Nottingham for the first time – there was a mass exodus to Chalfont Drive. Seriously. Waiting times there rocketed to 9 weeks or more, although you could get a test in less than a fortnight at Colwick (note that normal waiting times are 9 weeks or greater at all Nottingham test centres as of 2015).
I know for a fact that not being able to teach the “new” manoeuvre was a deciding factor in prompting many ADIs to boycott Colwick. Others just resented the fact that the two original test centres had closed, and boycotted it on principle. But in the long run, forcing pupils who live closer to Colwick to take their tests at Chalfont was bound to backfire – and it did. In the years following Colwick’s first tests I have picked up dozens who were trained around Chalfont (or who had already failed there at least once), but who lived much closer to the MPTC. Whenever I expressed surprise at their apparent choice of test venue, they all made it clear it wasn’t their idea. You don’t have to be a genius to work out whose benefit this was really for.
However, you still get the occasional pupil who naively thinks that having one less manoeuvre to learn increases their chances of passing. I’m sure there are ADIs out there who see it that way, too, as well as being one less manoeuvre to teach. There was a completely fallacious belief that Chalfont was “easier”, which still persists in one form or another (at the time of the original article, the statistics showed that Colwick was actually 0.2% “easier”). Several pupils said that their previous instructor told them Chalfont was easier, and many others appeared to have picked this up from friends, some of whom no doubt got it from their own instructors. It’s rubbish. It always was, and it still is. The bottom line is that if you drive like crap, you’ll fail at whatever test centre you go to.
It’s unlikely to be much different around he country, and substandard instructors everywhere will be looking to cut as many corners as they possibly can.
“Bay parking” for the test (in the format used in 2015) means reversing into a parking bay in a car park where the bays are next to each other (unlike parallel parking, where you reverse into a space between cars which are end to end – usually against the kerb). Think of it as parking in Asda or Morrisons – but backwards!
Many drivers are terrified of any sort of parking and spend a large part of their driving lifetimes avoiding doing it. They would much rather drive into an bay well away from anyone else – head-first – and pray that no one parked near them by the time they came back out! But it is easier to get into a bay by reversing in, and easier and safer to get out again driving forwards – especially if you have kids with you and you’re loading up your car in a supermarket car park. And in any case – as I always add if someone questions it: “…you’ve got to be able to do it for the test, so you are going to learn how!”
Bays can be laid out in a rectangular pattern, diagonally (often called “herringbone”), and in regularly or haphazardly arranged blocks. I’m sure there are other types, but these are the most common ones.
What is the examiner expecting when he asks me to reverse park into a bay?
He will NOT dictate which bay you should reverse into, or which side to do it from. He will NOT influence the method to be used. He will NOT tell you to park in the centre of the bay. The car’s wheels do NOT have to be exactly straight once the manoeuvre is complete, nor does the car itself have to be completely square in the bay. The DT1 SOP says:
Candidates should park within a bay, but examiners should not be too concerned, when making their assessment, of the final position of the car in the bay1. Parking outside the bay is unacceptable2. Candidates should not normally be penalised for crossing the lines when entering the bay3.
Examiners should consider whether the car could reasonably be left, in that car park in the prevailing conditions, in that position. Exceptionally the examiner may feel the need to leave the car before making an assessment. This is acceptable provided the candidate is asked to secure the car and stop the engine4.
Irrespective of the presence of other vehicles or pedestrians, the candidate should be expected to take all round observations to ensure that the manoeuvre is executed safely. The question is not whether there is anybody there, but whether the candidate has taken adequate observations to ensure that safety is maintained throughout the exercise. Observation should be assessed as though the exercise was carried out on road5.
At some DTCs, to avoid congestion, it will be necessary for some examiners to carry out the exercise at the start of the test and some at the end. The exercise may be completed into any empty marked bay, irrespective of whether cars occupy the adjacent bays, providing that these vehicles do not encroach on the bay to be used6.
I’ve added superscripts, which are explained below.
- You don’t have to be precisely central in the bay when you’ve finished
- You must actually be within a single bay (and that includes touching one of the lines). You must not finish in any part of the adjacent bays (being completely on the white line is pushing your luck a little)
- It doesn’t matter if you cut across the end of the adjacent bay line when reversing in, but if you are so close that you cut completely across the adjacent bay then you are again asking for trouble (if someone else was parked there, you’d just hit them)
- The examiner’s judgment over what is acceptable is what matters.
- Just because the car park is empty doesn’t mean you can forget to look around you. You must behave as if you were on a busy road, and the examiner will assess you on that basis. In any case, unless you actually look you don’t know for sure that it is empty.
- Don’t assume that the car park will be empty of other cars for this manoeuvre. You could end up having to park between two vehicles in bays either side of you, and other candidates may well be returning from their tests
What counts as a fault for the bay parking exercise?
Again, referring to the DT1 SOP:
REVERSE PARK ROAD / CAR PARK Control / Observation
Expected outcome / competence
Ability to control the vehicle accurately when parking on the road or into a parking bay.
Effective all round observation throughout the manoeuvre showing consideration to other road users.
Assessment Criteria – (example = control)
Re-positioning required to correct a loss of control or accuracy.
Excessive re-positioning to correct complete misjudgement and /or significant loss of control. Final parking position parking – outside the bay.
Any situation brought about by the above loss of control that resulted in actual danger to the examiner, candidate, the general public or property.
- Poor co-ordination of controls
- Ending up straddling two bays
- Unnecessary shunting forwards and backwards
- Turning the steering wheel the wrong way
- No blind spot checks
- Relying too much or entirely on the mirrors
- Ineffective observation
- Looking but not reacting to other vehicles or pedestrians
- Waiting too long for other users in the car park
This doesn’t need much explanation other than to point out that just turning your head doesn’t mean you are looking – you have to see any potential hazards. And although you can technically get away with being completely diagonally parked within a bay – with a front wheel touching the line one side, and the opposite rear wheel touching the line the other side – you obviously should be aiming to be completely straight and dead centre. That way, if you are a little off-target on the day you’ll still be pretty good if the examiner needs to decide if the car could reasonably be left in that position without causing an obstruction.
Do you fail if you finish touching one of the lines?
No. You might get a driver fault, but it is not a serious fault. DT1, which I quoted above, says that clearly.
Do you fail if any part of one of your wheels is in the neighbouring bay?
In theory, yes. But I have now witnessed two cases where a candidate has done this and it has not been marked as a serious.
In one example, about three-quarters of the candidate’s wheel was in the neighbouring bay and left it like that – but didn’t get marked. In another example, the candidate was given an opportunity to correct it – even though the examiner had seen it clearly just over the line by a couple of centimetres once the candidate had finished.
In this second case it was the examiner using admirable discretion for an otherwise good drive. However, in that first example, I disagree with the examiner’s criterion for what is/isn’t acceptable (though that is just my personal view and I would not take it any further).
What’s the best way to bay park?
There isn’t a “best way”, but there are several alternatives, all of which have their place at one time or another. Some pupils can handle one way better than the others.
My preferred method for beginners is to start in a fixed position at right angles to the bay you want to park in, and about a car’s width away from the end of the bays (the orange car in the diagram). As soon as the car moves, get full lock on as quickly as possible and reverse in. Use the mirror on the side you’re coming in from to judge when you’re parallel with the bay line.
The method works just as well where the bays are in a herringbone pattern, although you have to angle the car as show, and start a little further away from the ends of the bays.
Success with this depends entirely on being able to start from exactly the same position relative to your target bay every time you do it. You need to find a reference point in your car, and line it up to the third line away from your target bay.
I prefer this method because a) it requires the smallest amount of space, b) anyone can do it, and c) you can put it into written words and follow it prescriptively.
An alternative way is to simply turn away from your target bay as you approach it – possibly even driving into another bay opposite if it is vacant – then reverse back in a straight line. This is fine if you have enough room, and if you don’t have to correct your position too much.
The most flexible method is simply to use your mirrors to aim into your target bay. Many learners have problems with steering in reverse, though, and in such cases this method is probably the most difficult to master.
Using the fixed position method, the reference point you need varies from car to car. I once taught it to an ex-pupil on a parking lesson in her own vehicle – an 18-foot minibus/van. The only real difference was that we had to line up with the fourth line instead of the third. You’ll find that the reference point is somewhere roughly in the middle of the front doors, give or take a bit.
Are there any other ways to bay park?
The fixed position method has two major drawbacks, in that you have to have at least two more lines lines beyond your target bay otherwise you can’t do it, and the bays have to be a standard size. If you want to get into an end bay or one that’s been deliberately over- or undersized by whoever painted it, you’ve got to choose another way.
The straight line method is certainly the easiest, but you must have room or else you simply can’t do it.
The mirrors method requires good reversing skills, which many learners simply don’t have – nor do they have the financial resources to acquire such skills if it turns out they have a problem.
I show all these methods to my own pupils, but in almost all cases it is the fixed position one that we go with. I explain that they will have plenty of time to practice the other ways once they’ve passed. Being brutally honest, taking two minutes to park in Asda once they’ve passed is only going to annoy a few drivers (and maybe give them a bit of a giggle), whereas taking two minutes over it on your test will likely earn a fail. So it makes sense to focus on a method that works rather than one that they have got the next 40 years to perfect.
Which method should I use on my test?
It’s up to you. However, I always explain to my pupils that although I am teaching them to be good drivers for the rest of their lives, we mustn’t forget that I am also teaching them to pass their tests in the most cost-effective time frame for them (and no matter what they might claim, all ADIs are teaching their pupils to “pass the test” – it’s what they are paid to do!) This is not the same as only teaching the bare minimum to pass.
To that end, the fixed position method is usually the best option for me, because it works every time as long as you get one simple reference position right, and it also works in real life.
I remember my own examiner telling me when I’d passed my driving test that it was only the start, and that I’d be learning for the rest of my life. She was right. And that is just as true now as it was then. If you can park reasonably well, you’re going to be fine – you don’t need a PhD in the subject.
Can I open the door to check my alignment?
Yes. In all honesty, you shouldn’t need to – but, yes.
How does the examiner know I’m inside the bay?
Some will get out and walk around the car at the end of the manoeuvre (usually, if you’re not straight or displaced to one side). Others will open their door and take a look – you can easily tell if the car is in this way and if it’s straight, just by looking at the position of the left bay line. And some may just use the mirrors.
How does my instructor know I’m inside the bay?
He can use any of the above methods. Personally, I can tell if someone is inside the bay just by how they did the manoeuvre. I can then glance in the mirror to confirm it. Sometimes, I will open the door to emphasise how well-centred the car is. Very occasionally – usually, if I’m on a wind up with a pupil who has made a slight mistake – I will get out and walk round. More frequently, though, I get the pupil to get out and walk round the car.
Will I fail if I’m on a line or not centralised?
No. Finishing on a line or very close to one is not an automatic fail – the examiners’ DT1 document states that. You should aim to finish dead centre at the first attempt, of course, and you are allowed to correct yourself. But take this example.
A while back, one of my pupils hated this manoeuvre, even though as far as I was concerned she was very good at it. Of course, this was the manoeuvre she got on her test. It was at the end as she came back to the test centre, and I was watching from behind a hedge so she couldn’t see me.
She reversed back and was cleanly inside the bay, but for some reason she decided she needed to fix it. She drove forward, then reversed back into almost the exact same position. She tried again, and once more ended up in the same position. Then she had another try and this time ended up not straight and with her rear nearside wheel slightly inside the neighbouring bay. I saw the wipers settle and knew that she’d tuned off the ignition, so I walked over thinking “damn, she’s failed”. As I approached the car, the passenger window was open and the examiner said “just a minute DOAADI, we haven’t finished yet”. I walked on and stood somewhere behind. The examiner said something to my pupil, who then tried adjusting it one more time. She finished not quite straight, and close to the opposite line to the one she’d originally corrected for. And she passed.
So never assume anything.
Do they do the bay park manoeuvre at Watnall?
According to a pupil I took on recently, and who had had a test at Watnall, they DO do bay parking there.
This is an old story from November 2012 which I’ve updated. As of September 2014, tests are conducted at Colwick, Beeston (near the train station), Clifton (on the Trent University campus), and Watnall (the old LGV testing station).
Note that Chalfont Drive stopped doing tests in 2012. Clarendon Street (the Trent University campus in the city centre) ceased conducting tests in late August 2014 a few weeks prior to Watnall commencing operations.
This article is now summarised from the original sequence of will-it-won’t it relocations in 2012 and 2013.
The DVSA had to vacate the Chalfont Drive location as the lease had run out (the entire site, which housed many government offices, is now deserted). They seemed to have left it a little late to start looking for a new location, and for a short time tests moved to Watnall and the DVLA local offices (which have now also closed).
DVSA announced that a new centre would open on the Beeston Business Park in the Rylands before the contract had been finalised. As a result, the whole deal almost fell through when the area was inundated with idiot ADIs conducting their lessons in the Rylands (in actual fact, no test routes cover the Rylands, and there is a notice up in the test centre waiting room informing instructors of this fact as a result of complaints by residents).
Anyway, to cut a long and very confusing story short, the Beeston Test Centre began operating in June 2013. And after the closure of the Clarendon Street trial, tests have once again started being conducted out of Watnall.
This article was originally published in December 2013, and the changes are now in effect. Please look at the update at the bottom of the article for information on how to pay by direct debit.
From 1 October 2014, tax discs will no longer be issued or be required to be displayed on vehicles. Also from that date, it will be possible to pay your road tax annually, every six months, or monthly by direct debit.
There is more information available here. It’s also been covered in much of today’s media. The changes do not negatively impact motorists in any way – the surcharge for paying six-monthly or monthly, for example, will actually be half of what it currently is when you pay six-monthly.
The tax disc first appeared in 1921. According to the article, over 99% of motorists pay their road tax on time.
The only question I would have is what happens if someone’s monthly direct debit is refused? Are they then untaxed? Since enforcement is by ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Readers/Recognition) systems there could be a rise in the numbers of those being stopped for having no tax – yet they might not be aware that they aren’t taxed.
NOTE: As a reader has pointed out, the term “road tax” is technically a misnomer, and the correct term is “vehicle tax” or “vehicle excise duty”. However, I should point out myself that the term “road tax” is almost universal, even to the point of being in the OED. You can read more about the debate surrounding the term on Wikipedia.
A lot of people are finding the blog on search terms associated with “how do I pay by direct debit?” The short answer is that I don’t know – not in detail, anyway. My own tax is paid automatically by my lease agent, so I don’t have to sort it out myself.
However, my understanding is that if you go to a Post Office to renew your tax, you can sign up for direct debit there any time after 5 October 2014. From 1 November 2014 you will also have that option if you renew online. You will be able to pay annually, biannually (every six months), or monthly. More information is given on the GOV.UK website here.
There is currently a beta version of the online renewal system. You can try it out here.
It was announced last summer that the DSA would merge with VOSA to create a single body. As of Wednesday, 2 April 2014, this change took effect and the combined body is now known as the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA).
There’s no information yet about when – and if – there will be a specific logo for the new body. The number of hits I’ve been getting on the blog asking suggests that this is important to a lot of ADIs for reasons which are unclear. Far more important is the financial impact – good, bad, or remaining the same – on those who use it.
For anyone who needs to contact what used to be VOSA or DSA, just use the same numbers and addresses you always did until new ones are announced. Outwardly, there is no real change at the moment.
The driving test turned 80 years old yesterday. It came in as part of the Road Traffic Act of 1934.
Back then, there were almost 7,500 deaths each year on the roads. The figure is around 1,750 today. The only major changes since 1934 have been the mandatory use of speedometers and safety glass (1937) and compulsory seatbelts (1983). In 1990 it became Law that supervising drivers must be 21 or older and have held a full licence for three years, and this apparently resulted in a major fall in accidents. A written theory test was introduced in 1996, and the Hazard Perception Test in 2002.
One comment in this news source intrigued me:
…the fatality figure last year stood at 1,754, and although there is still some way to go before we see an end to deaths on our roads, the figure proves that legislation works.
So it appears that someone somewhere is expecting – in all seriousness – that road casualties will eventually reach 0%. People really do talk nonsense sometimes. I’ve got more chance of winning the Lottery every week from now until the day I die than that has of happening. It’s a totally unrealistic target. Someone needs to look up the meaning of the word “accident”.
A new documentary is scheduled to be shown on 10 April 2014 on ITV (10.35 pm). It promises to “delve into the murky world” of test fraud and illegal driving. It follows the DSA’s Fraud & Integrity Team and the press release suggest the problem is far deeper than you’d imagine, and that the people behind it will go to any lengths to commit such fraud.
As was reported in October last year, the option to take theory or practical tests in languages other than English or Welsh will no longer be available from 7 April 2014. This means that theory tests will not have voiceovers, and practical tests will not be conducted with interpreters. English and Welsh theory test voiceovers for special needs candidates will still be available, and it will still be possible to use a BSL interpreter if you require it.
The DSA has sent out a reminder that the deadline date is fast approaching.
Just to emphasise. At the moment you can have the theory test in the following languages:
From 7 April 2014 the list will look like this:
And from 7 April you will only be allowed to have a BSL interpreter. No other interpreter will be allowed.