Driving instructors will have a tough time this year. Many are sole traders and will need to start changing their record keeping to accommodate the challenges of Making Tax Digital, either April 2018 if their turnover is above the VAT registration limit (presently £85,000), or April 2019 if their turnover is below this limit.
On 4 December 2017, they will also face changes to the driving test. According to a recent press release issued by the Driver & Vehicles Standard Agency there will be four basic changes:
1. The independent driving part of the test will increase to 20 minutes – it currently lasts 10 minutes – so this will be about half of the test.
2. Following directions from a sat nav - during the independent driving part of the test, most candidates will be asked to follow directions from a sat nav. One in five driving tests won’t use a sat nav. You’ll need to follow traffic signs instead.
3. Reversing manoeuvres will be changed - the ‘reverse around a corner’ and ‘turn-in-the-road’ manoeuvres will no longer be tested, but you should still be taught them by your instructor. You’ll be asked to do one of 3 possible reversing manoeuvres:
parallel park at the side of the road
park in a bay - either driving in and reversing out, or reversing in and driving out (the examiner will tell you which you have to do)
pull up on the right-hand side of the road, reverse for 2 car lengths and re-join the traffic.
4. Answering a vehicle safety question while you’re driving - the examiner will ask you 2 vehicle safety questions during your driving test - these are known as the ‘show me, tell me’ questions.
Ironically, this may produce a rash of activity as learner drivers attempt to pass before the December change. It may also be a window of opportunity for employers to consider supporting employees who would benefit from being able to drive as part of their work. As long as the employer directly engages the driving school, and pays for the lessons, and it can be demonstrated that passing a test is a requirement of their employment, then the cost would be a tax-free benefit to the employee.