The Cardington Special Test

By | ADI's, Advanced | No Comments

Cardington, oh, Cardington,
I still hear your learners crashin,
while I watch the indicators flashin’.

(That’s a Glenn Campbell reference in case anyone was wondering)

I recently decided it was time to bite the bullet and take the only driving test I hadn’t taken – The Cardington Special Test.  Created in collaboration with the ADINJC back in the 70’s it was designed to test ADI’s against the same criteria as Driving Examiners.

This test can only be taken by ADI’s and can only be taken at the DVSA Training Establishment in Cardington. It’s examined by the staff examiners, the same people who test and retest new entrant, and driving examiners.

The test lasts 90 minutes and covers a variety of roads including motorways.

It’s £144 , and somewhat quaintly can only be paid via cheque or postal order. On the dates I was offered appeared to only be conducted at 10 am on a Monday but I guess that could vary.

Originally it was a zero fault test, however, as only the very first couple of applicants achieved this, it was standardised as a two fault test, before becoming a three fault test around 20 years ago.

(The Diamond Special (now Elite test) was based on the Cardington and remains a two fault test, although unlike the Cardington no two faults are allowed in the same box)

The main issue I found with the test is that there is very little information around about what it entails.

I spent a couple of hours on a quiet estate in Pershore, practicing arm signals with someone that used to teach them when they were required for the driving test (i.e. my Dad), as some googling suggested that they were still required on the test. (And a conversation with a Cardington examiner some time previously suggested they were now only done on the Cardington training area – best to be prepared I thought!)

So. for anyone interested –  on a turn or emerge,  it’s Mirror – Arm out the window – count 1 – 2 – 3, arm back in, mirror –  brakes, change down, arm out the window 1-2-3 and then back in and steer into the road. A common fault then was steering with your arm still out the window, or changing gear with your arm still out the window – i.e. no hands on the steering wheel! – You quickly realise that 40 odd years on from when this was standard, should someone appear in the time gap when your arm isn’t out the window, tough luck they have to guess where you’re going – and you can forget about taking first as you come up to an emerge – apparently it was all a lot harder in cars that didn’t have electric windows, and also had sliding windows!)

A common fault then was steering with your arm still out the window, or changing gear with your arm still out the window – i.e. no hands on the steering wheel! You quickly realise that 40 odd years on from when this was standard, should someone appear in the time gap when your arm isn’t out the window, tough luck they have to guess where you’re going – and you can forget about taking first as you come up to an emerge – apparently it was all a lot harder in cars that didn’t have electric windows, and also had sliding windows.

You quickly realise that 40 odd years on from when this was standard, should someone appear in the time gap when your arm isn’t out the window, tough luck they have to guess where you’re going – and you can forget about taking first as you come up to an emerge – apparently it was all a lot harder in cars that didn’t have electric windows, and also had sliding windows.

Anyway having confused the local residents for an hour or so (hey I had a top box on, they probably assumed I was just learning!) I was all set.

I’d booked a terrific hotel called The Barns for the Sunday night,  and while this isn’t a hotel review I’d fully recommend it – 4 star, around the same price as a Premier Inn and 5 minutes from the site (again some googling suggested that you can stay onsite at the DVSA , however, they didn’t offer it to me when I booked and I didn’t ask – Also when carrying out a reccy of the site on Sunday PM the gates were all locked up and there was no indication that the site was open so perhaps they no longer offer this?)  – The only downside was the food was a bit expensive.

I travelled down midday Sunday and took the opportunity to scope out the area, I’ve been to Cardington a few times before, but I wanted to have a closer look at the nearby roads, you don’t want to get off to a bad start after all, and I know there’s a confusing road that finishes in a dead end/bus lane at Shortstown nearby. I had a couple of 15-year-old test routes someone kindly sent me that I had a quick gander at on google maps, but other than that I’ve no idea where the test route will take me.

Anyway come the Monday morning it was off to HQ, and now it’s my turn to sit like a learner in the waiting room for the examiner to appear (at least at Cardington there’s free coffee)

The DE (and I use that in a general term, the Examiner is well above DE level)  appears and asks for my license check code details – (Seems unlikely that an ADI would turn up who was disqualified mind you) – off he goes presumably back to his office – He seems to take an eternity before he re-appears – Is this an attempt to psych me out with the waiting I wonder ? But I quickly put such thoughts aside as that’s not the DVSA’s M.O. and as much coffee as you want is included in the price.

The DE is back, for a quick pre-test chat – Basically, a much higher standard than Part 2 is expected, and this includes not signalling when there is no-one to benefit. He mentions this a couple of times so I guess this must be a common issue for ADI’s, however, it’s not an issue for anyone Roadcraft trained. I remember another Cardington Examiner mentioning this as well.

There are grades to the test:

Grade Number of faults allowed
Grade A Between 0 and 3 faults
Grade B Between 4 and 6 faults
Grade C Between 7 and 15 faults
Grade D More than 15 faults or a serious fault

I confirm that the positioning required is “Driving the Essential Skills” and not “Roadcraft” – (I’d have expected nothing less from the DVSA) – And then it’s the “Lead your way to your veh-i-cle”
There’s an eyesight test in the car park, the DE does the usual walk around the car hops in the passenger seat, notes down my ADI badge number and gives the standard start of test briefing.

Along with the usual spiel about “don’t worry if you see me marking things down I have to tick off things as we go along” to which I say “well If it’s more than 15 I’ll be worried” – For anyone interested it has its own marking sheet specifically for the test, they don’t use the DL25.

Then off we go, out the car park, down Paul Waller Avenue (I’d always wondered who he was so I asked the DE – He was a Senior Examiner in the old days apparently) which goes to a 60mph so I get a move on down to the junction. Start straight away with a commentary and after a minute or so the DE says there’s no commentary requirement (which I knew) however I prefer under test to give one to aid concentration and allow an insight into my thought process and do so throughout the test, which is good I immediately start to give a devation signal with no-one around and then correct myself.

To cut a long story short the test takes in all the manoeuvres  (inc right reverse) and an independent drive section. Not the new manoeuvres or the satnav, however, it will probably be adjusted to include these when they become part of the normal test (which is a shame IMHO) as well as the emergency stop.

There are no “Show me/tell me questions”

I also (safely) took the wrong exit at a roundabout (someone was about to cut me up and discretion was the better part of valour in the circumstances).

Somewhat disappointingly I wasn’t asked to demonstrate arm signals, so I was denied my opportunity to terrorize the local residents of Bedford in the same way I had Pershore.

Anway I passed Grade A   – Fault for cutting a right-hand turn, which I knew as I was doing it and had a view,  however, Bedford seems to have stopped bothering renewing road markings and picked up a fault. You might think what have the markings got to do with it but the junction was on a curve and I couldn’t judge the exact centre until I arrived in a slightly off position.

Other comments – couple of occasions I indicated when the DE wouldn’t have (with regard to persons to benefit) – hung on to 3rd a little too long on occasion – An Eco Fault but not marked, and should have done an overtake sooner on a tractor after I took the wrong turn I mentioned above – I hesitated under test conditions, when I could have just done a “fly past” overtake  and ended up stuck behind it on double whites.  Normally I’d just have gone for it.

As for faults not worthy of mention – I don’t know as he didn’t mention them! –  from my perspective early on I thought the left reverse was slightly shakey, I could have been in a bit tighter (I wasn;t massively wide or anything but it didn’t go as smooth as usual. That passed without comment.

The next junction after moving off from the left reverse I was about to emerge when the bite felt slightly off and I realised I was still in 2nd and hadn’t knocked it into first when I stopped. I corrected this and moved off without incident which wasn’t commented on.

In comparison for the New Entrant DE test (which does include a commentary apparently), I’d have scored Gold as long as I don’t hang onto 3rd to much.

In around 7 days I’ll get a certificate in the post (you don’t get anything to take away with you at the end).

Anyway in the world of Advanced Driving tests that’s it for me – All the Police, Ambulance and Civilian ones done. I’ll keep up the RoSPA Diploma and the IAM one and that’s it.

More Part 3 News

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

Updated Information from DVSA on Part 3

We have this afternoon received the following from Jacqui Turland, Registrar –

“Further to my email of 1 September 2017, I wanted to let you know that we have yet to gain Parliamentary approval to introduce the change, but are still hopeful that we will be able to do so by late October.

Having written to all PDIs with a test booked up to 13 October, we will now been contacting all those with a test booked up to 27 October. We’ll be able to give them more options on what they can do, such as postponing their test to a later date or keeping their test date and taking the test in the current format. They’ll be advised to speak to their instructor trainer to discuss the best option for them.

We will also be contacting all those on the Official Register of Instructor Trainers.

I will, of course, update you as and when I have more clarity on an implementation date.”


As I said before – I’m still hopeful I’ll win the lottery as well…..

The Hangover Part 3 – Again

By | ADI's | No Comments
The ADI Part 3 test isn’t changing on the 2nd of October. It’s been postponed as the legislation wasn’t able to be updated in time.

I have no-one going through at the planned change over time, by design, (There’s an old saying in sales – “The sale doesn’t count until the money is in the till”, and personally I think in a similar vein with dealing with dealing with target dates from Gov’t departments – It doesn’t happen till it happens, and my clients won’t be the guinea pigs on month one when it does) so I’m not out banging my head against the wall in frustration, but there are plenty of PDI’s and trainers now left in a mess because of this.

If you’re a PDI (and I’m speculating here), you’ll be offered to either continue your booked date and take the old test, or an extension on the pink badge (if you’re on one) to take the new one when it eventually changes. I think it’s extremely unlikely that they’ll run both tests in parallel for a short period as they’d have to amend the redrafted legislation to allow it, but you never know.


Read More

TRL Study Released

By | ADI's, Learner Drivers | No Comments

The moment you've all been waiting for

The publication of the TRL study into the new driving test has been published.

How the new car driving test impacts learning to drive, test performance and post-test driving, based on trials held in 2015 and 2016.

The full study can be read here, but some key points are listed below

No difference in post test collision rate

“The two test groups did not differ in their post-test driving exposure, except that those in the revised test group were more likely than those in the existing test group to have used a satnav. In terms of attitudes to risk and confidence, the groups did not differ significantly at six months post-test.

There were no differences in collisions (number, or rate) between the revised and existing test groups. There were familiar patterns in the collision data, with younger age and greater exposure being linked to more collisions. Collision modelling, which held driving exposure and age constant and included the age-matched national comparison group participants directly, showed again that there was no effect of test type on collision risk post-test. A range of factors related to pre- and post-test experience were related to changes in collision risk, but these applied to all groups”

“The final analysis in the study modeled collisions using a base model which controlled both age and exposure and then added other variables to establish which, if any, increased or decreased collision risk. The analysis confirmed that that test type had no statistically significant impact on collision risk”

Slight change in style of training

“A comparison of both trial groups with an age-matched group of participants from non-trial test centers showed that the national comparison group undertook more training with their ADIs than trial participants, were more likely to spend time learning in quiet residential areas and following road signs, and were more likely to spend no time learning on country roads, fast dual carriageways, or when using a satnav. If these differences were due to training bias (and not simply the particular ADIs or test centers in the trial) then it is possible that the revised test has the potential to alter the learning to drive process to a greater extent than shown through the comparisons between the main trial groups”

No change in test difficulty

“The revised test had no noticeable impact on test difficulty, whether measured by self-reported number of attempts before passing or DL25 minor faults.”

Black box policies have increased accident rates!

“The findings that those drivers with a telematics-based insurance policy are reporting more accidents is certainly worthy of further investigation, especially given the claims for safety benefits often made by providers of these policies. While it is possible that collisions under such policies (and work-related collisions) are more likely to be recalled or reported by participants, the very large increase in risk (around 50% in both cases) seems larger than might be explained by memory effects alone in a six month period.”

Advanced Driving Options

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

My latest column in the NJC newsletter covers the different types of Advanced Driving test available. Regular readers on this site might notice it’s similar to another post from earlier in the year, but if you can’t plagiarise yourself, who you can you plagiarise?

adv driving1

Green light for driving lessons on motorways

By | ADI's, Learner Drivers | No Comments
Learner drivers will be able to have lessons on motorways in a bid to improve road safety, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling announced today.

The law change will be active from 2018, when learners will be allowed on motorways with an approved driving instructor in a dual control car. This will provide a broader range of real life experiences and better prepare learners for independent driving when they pass their test.

Read More

More details on the new test from the DVSA:

By | ADI's, Learner Drivers | No Comments
As we gear up for the changes to the driving test on Monday 4 December 2017, we want to give you some more detailed information so you know what your pupils can expect.

We’re now starting to train our driving examiners on the changes to the test – including the new instructions they’ll give to your pupils.

I want to share these with you, along with some short videos showing some of the changes in action.

Read More

TomTom Start 52 Displays

By | ADI's
I can never remember if it’s the Start or Smart 52 , but those interesting in how configurable the display colours are the options are all shown below.

Basically, the colour option changes the “direction line” but that’s about it. There is a night mode which just darkens down the areas outside the roads.

Read More