Car Test Guidelines
Some areas the Examiner will consider
This should be smooth and accurate at all times. It is important that the driver is in full control of the steering wheel and in most circumstances the best way to achieve this is with both hands in contact with the wheel. The pull push method described in Roadcraft will help with this.
Operation should be smooth and progressive showing good balance with the accelerator to achieve smooth gear changes. However, you should not ‘ride’ the clutch or slip it excessively.
The manner in which you use the gears can tell a lot about your ability as a driver. The Examiner will look for how you hold the gear lever to assist with positive location of the desired gear, the timing of your gear changes and how you match the engine speed, road speed and the gear to make changes smoothly.
If you are driving a vehicle fitted with an automatic gearbox the Examiner will look for how you use, or consider using, the various modes available, manual gear selection or kick down facility as appropriate for the circumstances.
The Examiner will expect brake application to be smooth and progressive with the pressure on the pedal being reduced gradually as unwanted speed is lost. Brake application should generally be in one smooth operation for any hazard.
Smooth use of the accelerator together with good acceleration sense can do much to make the drive smooth and fuel efficient. The Examiner will be looking for the smooth application of the appropriate amount of power at the right time for the circumstances.
You cannot make appropriate plans for hazards ahead unless you are fully aware of what is happening behind you. Therefore the Examiner will be looking for correct use of the mirrors. Remember there are times when a shoulder check is required no matter how much you have used your mirrors.
The consideration of the use of the horn is as important in Advanced Driving as actually using it. The Examiner will be looking to see if you correctly consider the use of the horn, do you move your hand / fingers to cover the horn, and if you do use it, is that use appropriate for the circumstances? Is the use timed correctly, is the length of the horn use correct? Remember the horn is a means of informing other road users of your presence, it is not a form of rebuke.
Ensure that all windows and mirrors are clear and allow you the view intended by the vehicle manufacturer. Make full use of demisting facilities and also fresh air flow by opening a window as required, remember that air conditioning systems can also assist in demisting windows and keeping them that way. Any stickers etc should not obstruct your view through the windows and ensure that the area swept by the wipers is not obstructed.
Moving off and Stopping
Whenever you move off or stop you must ensure that it is safe to do so and your actions should be smooth and precise. Remember that when you initially move off this will be the first impression the Examiner has of your driving. Make it a good one. Before moving off do mirror and shoulder checks and signal as appropriate. Similarly when you intend to stop, ensure that you check mirrors etc and signal your intention if appropriate, remembering to brake smoothly. If this is the conclusion of your test it is the last impression you give the Examiner, so make it a good one.
Use of the System
The RoSPA advanced test is based on Roadcraft and The System of Car Control described therein. The Examiner will be looking to see how well you understand and apply the phases of The System, are they well timed and appropriate, do you go back to an appropriate earlier phase if circumstances change on the approach to a hazard? Do you consistently take, use and give information throughout your application of The System? To achieve a Gold or Silver grade you will have to apply The System to a consistently high standard throughout the test.
If you are to take in all the information that is available at any time then you need to position your vehicle appropriately. This applies equally to roads subject to lower speed restrictions (30, 40 and 50) as it does to roads subject to the national speed limit. Consider on the approach to a hazard whether your position provides you with the best view whilst retaining appropriate safety margins? Remember that you can assist other road users by making sure they can see you as well. However never sacrifice safety for view. If moving to a position to obtain what you consider to be the best view would place you in actual or potential danger, then do not do it!
You must always be able to stop on your own side of the road in the distance you can see to be clear. The Examiner will look at the line you take on the approach and through the corner, did it give you the best view with appropriate safety margins, was your speed of approach correct and were you in the right gear? You will be expected to control the vehicle smoothly and accurately maintaining vehicle stability through correct use of the controls and good observation and planning. The practice of crossing the centre of the road to straighten a series of bends is one that causes significant discussion. If the circumstances are appropriate it can contribute to safety, stability and progress. This is however an action that requires a high level of skill, observation and planning to execute correctly. Whilst there are positives the potential for coming into conflict with, or causing confusion to other road users can be significant and must always be taken into consideration. If in the opinion of the Examiner, the candidate causes their own or another road user’s safety to be compromised, they will fail the test. You must also ensure that crossing any road markings at any time does not compromise safety or stability.
Signals are the primary way you give information to other road users about your intentions. They must be given correctly and at the right time so as to avoid confusion. Give them only when they will benefit another road user and remember they indicate your intention, not what you are already doing. Remember giving a signal does not give you the right to conduct the manoeuvre.
Reaction to signs, markings and hazards
As an advanced driver you need to be able to recognise and react to road signs, markings and hazards in good time. In this way you give yourself time to react and form a driving plan. The Examiner will be looking for evidence of this in the timing and manner of response to the various signs and hazards that you come across.
You may be asked to carry out a reversing manoeuvre. You will be expected to make all necessary checks to ensure that it is safe to reverse, remember that aids, reversing sensors / cameras etc are just that, an aid. There is no substitute for proper all round observation including listening, consider lowering a window. Stopping the vehicle during the manoeuvre to realign it may be acceptable depending on the circumstances.
Progress / Restraint / Consideration
Advanced drivers demonstrate an ability to drive at a speed within the legal limit that is safe for the situation. The Examiner will be looking for you to drive in a manner that is safe, smooth, systematic and making progress where it is appropriate whilst also showing consideration for others. It is however, possible to be too considerate and thereby adversely affect your own opportunities to make progress during the test. In order to achieve the correct balance it is vital that you concentrate fully at all times.
An advanced grade can be obtained without an overtake being made on the test, however if the opportunity is there the Examiner will be looking at how you deal with it. All overtaking manoeuvres must be well planned, carried out safely and within the speed limit. There is no exemption in law for exceeding the speed limit to complete an overtake!
Advanced driving is not all about speed. Having said that you will be expected to demonstrate your ability to control your vehicle at speeds up to the legal limit where it is appropriate to do so. Be aware that a driving plan that requires you to exceed the legal limit to complete a manoeuvre safely is not acceptable. Likewise if you consistently exceed the speed limit the Examiner may stop the test and you will fail.
Respect your vehicle and do not ask too much of it. Always drive within the capabilities of the vehicle you are in whilst not being afraid to allow it to give you its optimum performance. There is a difference between driving a vehicle positively and progressively and ‘thrashing’ it.
Concentration is a prerequisite of advanced driving and distractions are an ever-present element with which you must deal whilst displaying a calm controlled approach to your driving. As part of this the Examiner may ask you questions relating to the conditions encountered.
One of the skills of an advanced driver is the ability to see hazards and situations developing earlier than lesser skilled drivers. This is achieved by constantly scanning all around taking in the near, middle and distant views as well as to the rear. Smell and sound can also play a significant part in this. In this way the advanced driver has more time to plan and deal with situations and can also anticipate the actions of other road users, almost appearing to do so automatically. Like positioning mentioned earlier, this skill is just as relevant in lower speed limits as it is on the open road. The Examiner will be looking to see how and when you react to changes in conditions.
Deportment / Temperament
Ensure that your seating position is comfortable and allows you easy access to all the vehicle controls. If you are comfortable you will be more able to demonstrate a calm controlled and confident manner throughout the test. The Examiner will anticipate you being nervous and will make some allowances for this so try not to let nerves affect your performance.
The Examiner will look to see what you consider a safe following distance and also how you position when looking to overtake another vehicle. How you use acceleration sense to maintain a safe following position and also your appreciation of the speed and distance of approaching vehicles.
You may be asked to give a commentary during your test. The purpose of this is to demonstrate to the Examiner your use of The System, your observations, planning and decision-making. You should describe what you see, your assessment and proposed driving plan. If you do not wish to give a commentary then the Examiner may ask questions to assist them assess your level of observations and awareness.
Motorways and dual carriageways
When intending to join these roads from a slip road with more than one lane you should generally, dependent on traffic conditions, use the one which gives you the best view of the main carriageway. Use this view and acceleration sense to give you the correct speed to merge with the traffic on that carriageway smoothly and safely. On the carriageway remember that speeds are generally higher than on other roads and allow an appropriate following distance. When planning to leave the motorway allow time to get into lane 1 without having to ‘cut across’ other vehicles. When joining or leaving such roads consider a signal as required to inform other road users of your intentions.
Following the on road element of the test the Examiner will ask you some questions to check your knowledge of Roadcraft and The Highway Code. You may also be asked some questions relating to your vehicle.