Independent driving was introduced into the practical driving test with the objective of bridging the gap between learning to drive and driving in the real world in particular to create more competent and safe novice drivers. Managing all that is going on around you and processing it as a driver, then being able to react in an appropriate way, is a challenge and ‘Independent driving’ is intended to test this at a basic level. It is therefore essential to gain the required skills to cope with independent driving on the test and when driving solo.

The necessary skills are;

1. Journey and route planning

2. Types of direction signs

3. Identifying primary and non-primary direction signs on the move

4. Following advance verbal directions, using a diagram where needed

5. Recognising destination place names

6. Continuing to use the mirrors well before signalling or changing direction

Making Route Decisions

Fitting in with other traffic

Responding to Direction Signs

Following routes marked on the road

MSM or System of car control routine and awareness


Independent driving –

 During the test you have to drive by following traffic signs, a series of directions, or a combination of both for about ten minutes.

 You will be asked to follow a series of verbal directions; you’ll be shown a diagram to help.

 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. It won’t affect the result of the test unless a driving fault is committed.

 Independent driving is not a test of orientation and navigation skills, it’s about making sensible decisions- this includes deciding when its safe and appropriate to ask for confirmation about where to go.

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

 If you happen to go off the route or take a wrong turning, the examiner will help them to get back on the route and continue with the independent driving exercise.

 If a special need is involved, no more than three directions will be issued at one time and this may be shortened to two. DSA can identify any special needs and disabilities when tests are booked online or over the phone, so that reasonable adjustments can be made for the candidate.

 Where a candidate has some form of dyslexia, examiners will ask the person what adjustments they need. For instance, their preference for verbal directions or to following signs. Diagrams are reproduced on cream vellum paper which cuts down any visual distraction. If helpful, visual clues to the diagram may be added, such as a supermarket or petrol station on route or telling the candidate the number of the exit point on roundabouts. Landmarks may be used such as ‘take the first left, it’s just pass the market’. Directions can be adapted from saying right and left to ‘your side’, ‘my side’

 Where a candidate speaks little or no English, the examiner will write the name of the place so that it is clear to them where they are being asked to drive to.


Frequently asked questions-

1. What are the faults to be taken care of during independent driving?

 Not seeing the direction sign or seeing the direction sign late

 Misinterpreting the direction sign

 Forgetting the place name or series of direction

 Not using the MSM/IPSGA routine correctly

2. What is System of car control or IPSGA routine?

The IPSGA routine is a Five Phase System of car control. It is an abbreviation of Information, Position, Speed, Gears, Acceleration (Deceleration).

Using this five phase system whilst driving will produce a higher degree of control whilst manoeuvring a hazard giving rise to a more fluid and efficient drive. The System has to be used in sequence.

Whilst looking well ahead, as far as the horizon if necessary, look out for an event change. This could be anything that might make you Slow down, Swerve, or Stop, in effect change your speed or direction.

Now consider if the change is going to result in a hazard for you as the driver. There are two main types of hazard 'Static' and 'Developing';

 static hazards are bends, humps and humped bridges, crossings and changing road systems (dual to single), junctions and roundabouts.

 developing hazards are more complex because the hazard itself may well be moving and unpredictable.

In either case IPSGA is used.

Food for thought – (You should give a think to the below and discuss this with your instructor)

Did you identify the learning goals and needs of this exercise?



Contents of this lesson are taken from:

DVLA – The Official Highway Code

Adi News Magazine

LDC Driving School’s YouTube videos

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