Since December 2017, the Driving and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) has included sat navs as part of the practical driving test in England, Scotland and Wales.

In 80% of tests, the examiner will ask the candidate to follow directions from a sat nav, so it’s a really good idea to brush up on your sat nav usage ahead of time. In the other 20% of tests, candidates will be asked to follow traffic signs instead.

Why did the DVSA include sat navs in the practical driving test?

Sat navs were included in the practical driving test to ensure new drivers are trained to use them safely and correctly.

Other changes include the independent driving section of the test where drivers follow directions given by the examiner. This section has increased from 10 minutes to 20 minutes to help new drivers follow directions safely.

You will not be marked down if you make a wrong turn during these sections, providing you don’t make a driving fault during the process.

Since 2017, the practical test also includes a greater variety of driving test routes to help drivers become accustomed to different roads. The aim is to help reduce road collisions by helping drivers become more familiar with high-speed roads.

Statistics show that, historically, young people are involved in higher levels of road collisions. Introducing these new driving test measures, such as the inclusion of sat navs, will help equip young drivers with the right skills to navigate roads safely.

Which sat nav will be used in the driving test?

The sat nav used on driving tests is the TomTom Start 52. You don’t need to worry about setting up the up the sat nav yourself on the test as the examiner will provide the sat nav, set it up for you and programme the destination.

While you can’t use your own sat nav for the actual test, the TomTom Start 52 is a great entry-level model that it’s well worth investing when you’re looking to buy your first sat nav. Being able to practice with the same model that you’ll probably use in the practical test will also help give you an extra level of confidence.

The TomTom Start 52 also contains a number of useful features to assist those learning to drive such as advanced lane guidance, which clearly shows drivers the correct lane to be in at vital junctions.

Sat nav driving test tips

So, whilst they can be incredibly handy, what should you bear in mind when you’re practicing with a sat nav?

1. Keep a clear view

Whether you’re learning to drive with an instructor or with your parents, make sure the sat nav is carefully positioned so it’s not obscuring your view of the road in any way.

Attaching it to your dashboard may be the best option, but if that’s not possible then you’ll want an unobtrusive spot on your windscreen that’s not in your direct line of sight.

2. Set the destination before you leave

While the examiner will set the destination for you in your driving test, it’s a good habit to do this before you set off when you’re practicing. If you’re in a rush, it can be tempting to set off and enter the destination as you go, but this simply isn’t safe and will distract your attention from the road. The aim of including sat navs in the practical test is to demonstrate that you can follow the device safely.

3. Check the route

There are more than a few places in the UK with the same name, so double check that you have programmed in the correct destination. Make sure to check that Newcastle is actually Newcastle and not Newcastle-Under-Lyne before you set off!

4. Remember that you’re driving, not the sat nav

While sat navs are incredibly useful, street signs are always right and will always trump a sat nav. So, if your sat nav tells you to drive the wrong way up a one-way street, then make sure you ignore it and find an alternative route instead. Although you are following directions, it’s essential to remain aware of what’s around you.

5. Keep your device up to date

New roads are being constructed all the time and the layouts of existing roads are constantly changing. Therefore, it’s essential to keep your sat nav updated so your directions correspond to what’s in front you.

The TomTom Start 52 comes with a lifetime of free map updates, along with a whole host of other handy features, so just make sure that your device is up-to-date and you’ll always have the latest maps to hand.

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We have a great range of sat navs over on, so if you’re looking for something with different functionality to the TomTom Start 52, then be sure to check them out.