U.K. Adds Navigation System Test to Driver's License Exam

​​​​U.K. drivers will now have to prove they can safely follow directions from a navigation system to get their licenses.


The proliferation of tech in modern cars gives drivers a lot more to do than simply keep their hands on the wheel and occasionally check blind spots. But is that being reflected in driver training? It will be in the U.K., at least. The Driving and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), which licenses driving instructors and sets standards for driving tests in the country, will now require test takers to prove they can safely follow directions from a navigation system. It's part of an update to the national driving exam meant to incorporate "more real life scenarios," according to BBC News.

U.K. transport minister Andrew Jones told BBC News that the addition of navigation systems was part of "ensuring the test is relevant in the 21st century." The new testing procedure will take effect December 4.

While many U.S. states have passed laws to crack down on distracted driving, there has been no overarching effort to account for in-car tech across all driving tests, or the driver's ed courses most students take to prepare for them. Rules like that are still up to individual states to implement.

The potential for in-car tech to cause dangerous distractions has caused considerable distress among safety regulators and advocates. The main response from carmakers has been to push the implementation of hands-free systems like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which are meant to minimize distraction by allowing a driver to keep his or her hands on the wheel, and eyes on the road most of the time.

But that may not be enough. A recent AAA study found that, even with hands-free texting, drivers can experience a "hangover effect" where the mind remains distracted for up to 27 seconds after performing the action. Training and tech may help, but the best solution to distracted driving may be to just pay attention to the road in the first place.