As drivers, we all have to learn how to park

learner driver

Olivia Baldock-Ward Head of Membership and Training at The Driving Instructors Association talks to us about the need for learner drivers to have access to car parks to be taught the skills of parking.

How have the BPA and the Driving Instructors Association (DIA) worked together in the past?

The DIA has supported BPA events in the past and we look forward to working together in the future. We are particularly interested in improving the perception of approved driving instructors (ADIs) by parking operators. Learner drivers need to access car parks to practise bay parking, as this is now part of the driving test. We want to work together with the BPA to reassure operators that driving instructors and learners are not the risk they might think. We plan to work with the BPA to help ADIs access more car parks to help with their pupils’ training. 

How has the driving test changed over recent years?

The driving test has recently changed to align it to more 'real-life' driving. Candidates taking the test say they feel it is more realistic and they feel better prepared as new drivers. The test now includes a longer 'independent driving' section where a sat nav is often used. 

The reversing exercises have also changed. Test candidates won't be asked to carry out a reverse around a corner or turn in the road anymore, but can still be asked to park. This would be either bay parking in a car park or a parallel park. 

The other potential test manoeuvres are pull up on the right-hand side of the road (using carefully selected roads) and reverse back a couple of car lengths to pull back into the traffic again (this manoeuvre can be common amongst experienced drivers when selecting somewhere to park on road). ADIs will still teach all the different reversing manoeuvres, including the ones that are no longer a part of the driving test. 

Do you think we have better drivers on our roads as a result of these changes?

Test candidates and new drivers have reported that they feel better prepared for real-life driving as a result of these changes. 

Why is the government focusing on young and novice drivers currently?  We see they are asking for views on this consultation Road safety: young and novice drivers

New drivers have a higher chance of being involved in a crash, particularly during their first year of driving. The government is looking into ways of helping reduce these figures whether it’s through telematics (refers to any device which merges telecommunications and informatics, including GPS systems and navigation systems), a graduated licencing scheme or other means. The government wants to help novice drivers stay safer on the road, as road traffic collisions are one of the biggest killers of young people. 

How can car park operators help driving instructors?

Car park operators can work with our industry to provide greater access to car parks for essential learner driver training. There are not many accessible places ADIs can take their pupils, yet this training is vital for pupils to understand car park rules. This training also helps to reduce the risk of damage to car park buildings and other cars, as well as their own. All learner drivers will access a car park once they have passed their test and so they need to be equipped with the knowledge and skills to be able to use car parks safely and legally.