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Independent driving and riding section of the practical test

Your practical driving test will include approximately ten minutes of independent driving. It's not a test of your orientation and navigation skills. Find out what independent driving is and how you'll be assessed during your test.

Which tests include the independent driving or riding section

Watch a video about independent driving

The independent driving or riding section is included in the following practical driving tests:

  • car
  • motorcycle module two
  • large goods vehicle (LGV)
  • passenger carrying vehicle (PCV) tests
  • approved driving instructor (ADI) driving ability (sometimes called 'part two')
  • taxi

Independent driving explained

Your practical driving test will include approximately ten minutes of independent driving.

During your test you'll have to drive independently by either following:

  • traffic signs
  • a series of directions
  • a combination of both

To help you understand where you are going when following verbal directions, the examiner will show you a diagram.

What happens if you forget the directions

It doesn't matter if you don't remember every direction, or if you go the wrong way - that can happen to the most experienced drivers.

Independent driving is not a test of your orientation and navigation skills. Driving independently means making your own decisions - this includes deciding when it's safe and appropriate to ask for confirmation about where you're going.

The independent driving route

If you ask for a reminder of the directions, the examiner will confirm them to you.

What happens if you go off the independent driving route

If you go off the independent driving route it won't affect the result of your test unless you commit a driving fault.

If you go off the route or take a wrong turning, the examiner will help you to get back on the route. You can then continue with the independent driving.

What happens if there are poor traffic signs

If there are poor or obscured traffic signs, the examiner will give you directions until you can see the next traffic sign - you won't need to have a detailed knowledge of the area.

Why you can't use sat nav

You can't use a sat nav for independent driving as it gives you turn-by-turn prompts. Independent driving tests how you make your own decisions.

Special needs and the independent driving section

The Driving Standards Agency (DSA) has procedures to identify special needs and disabilities when tests are booked online or over the phone. The examiner then knows which type of special needs you have so reasonable adjustment can be made.

For the independent driving section, this could be by asking you which method you prefer - following traffic signs or a series of directions (a maximum of three), which are supported by a diagram. In some cases this may be shortened to just two directions.

If you speak little or no English

Driving examiners are very experienced at dealing with candidates who speak little or no English. For example, sometimes they will write place names so it is clear to you where you're being asked to drive to.

You can have an interpreter along with you on your test if you wish. Your approved driving instructor can act as your interpreter.

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Additional links

Help for learner drivers

Talk to other learner drivers and share your experiences about learning to drive and driving tests

Driving test fees

Find out the cost of theory and practical driving tests when you book on Directgov

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