No matter what age you are when you take it, the driving test is a gateway to freedom.
According to the latest government figures, there were 423,000 driving tests between October and December last year, with the majority (90%) being for car tests.
However, concerns have been raised that new drivers aren't properly equipped with the skills and knowledge needed to drive independently on modern roads.
Having spent some time talking to driving instructor associations, academics and others interested in road safety, the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) began trialling changes to the driving test at 32 driving test centres last year.
While the majority of the test remains the same, the trial test will now begin with a 'tell me' question and a 'show me' question on the move. It will then consist of 20 minutes' independent driving using a satnav or traffic signs, with drivers being asked to perform a different set of manoeuvres.
Whether you're taking the current driving test or trialling the reformed test, it can still be quite a daunting experience. Here are our top tips for driving test success:
Only take the test when you feel ready
According to the RAC, the average learner needs 45 hours of driving lessons and 22 hours of practice to pass the driving test. The best way to know if you're ready is to ask your driving instructor as they will be able to tell you, honestly, if your skills are at the required level.
Take a mock test
As they say, practice makes perfect. Take a mock driving test with a driving instructor acting as the examiner so you can familiarise yourself with the driving test environment. It will also make you feel more confident on the day. To make it more realistic, use someone who isn't your normal instructor.
Know the route
Knowing the area around the test centre and all the possible routes you'll be driving will make it seem less daunting on the day. Drive the routes as often as possible with your instructor and, if you can, when practising privately.
Be comfortable in your car
Make sure you do the test in the car that you've driven regularly. Feeling comfortable with the controls, particularly the biting point of the clutch, will help you feel more confident. You don't want to be getting to know a new car on the day of your test!
Avoid common mistakes
Use your lessons to discover bad habits. Not checking mirrors enough, inadequate observation when reverse parking or moving away, poor positioning at junctions and roundabouts, and inappropriate speed are all common driving test pitfalls.
If you don't understand what the examiner has asked you to do, don't be afraid to ask them to repeat the instruction. Better to ask than to do it incorrectly.
And most importantly, don't forget to relax. Take a few deep breaths to lower your heart rate and away you go! Good luck!
© M2 Bespoke 2016