Independent Driving


The driving test lasts approximately 38-40 minutes and of that 20 minutes are assigned for independent driving. This may be by following road signs or following sat nav. Independent driving just means that you are not getting your instructions from the examiner and that you are driving in a more independent style like you will when you have passed your test. During the drive, the examiner will normally ask you to pull up on the left when it’s safe to do so and they will proceed to tell you that the independent driving part will begin. Alternatively the independent driving may start at the very beginning of your test.

So – in simple terms – for half the test the examiner will give you directions whenever he wants you to turn, but during the independent driving you follow road signs or satnav instructions


Out of every 5 driving tests conducted, 4 tests will involve following directions from a sat nav during the independent driving. You don’t need to worry about taking along your own sat nav, or having a sat nav in your car as examiners will take their sat nav  which will use an in-built battery as a power source – so there’s no need for messing around with plugging in cables cables to your vehicle. The examiner will place it on the dashboard using a non slip mat.

You won’t need to operate the device as the examiner will setup the route on the sat nav – you’ll just need to follow directions.

Be aware that the sat nav will probably give you more than one direction at a time – for instance “In 80 yards turn left then take the third on the right” – so make sure you are paying attention. You will also find that it normally gives each direction two or three times eg “In 300 yards turn right … In 80 yards turn right ….Turn right”


If your driving test doesn’t involve the use of a sat nav, you will be asked instead to follow road signs for the independent driving section. The signs will be clearly visible for test candidates. However, if you cannot see a road traffic sign (this could be because it’s covered by trees for example), the examiner will provide direction until the next sign is visible.

In the case for following road signs, the examiner will state they would like you to follow the road signs to a specific location, they will then update you accordingly. If you are a little unsure of where you should be going you can ask the examiner to repeat the instructions.

What if I go the wrong way on Independent Driving?

”Can you fail the driving test for going the wrong way?” No, going the wrong way on a driving test in and of itself will not fail you. However you must have done everything correctly and safely for the way that you go. So for instance if you signal left to take the first exit at the roundabout but then take the second exit this is likely to be a serious fault for which you fail. It’s important to note that you aren’t failed for going the wrong way. So If you are told to turn left at the roundabout but you take the second exit instead of the first, as long as you do everything correctly the examiner will not fail you.

So what should I do if I go the wrong way on a driving test?

First and foremost, remain calm. The examiner will be aware of the error and will prompt you directions to get back on route. If you are following the sat nav, the device may recalculate the route, so simply follow the directions provided.


If you are not entirely sure of the directions you need to take it’s quite ok to ask the examiner for assistance. It makes no difference to the result of the driving test if you make incorrect turns during the independent driving providing you do so safely. If you feel that you are becoming excessively stressed (at any point during the driving test not just independent driving) it’s ok to ask the examiner if you can pull over in a safe, legal and convenient location to take a few moments to compose yourself.


sat nav