This idea is nothing new. At present you are allowed to take someone with you on your driving test if you wish. Anyone over 16 years old is allowed to accompany a driving test candidate, but they cannot take any part in the test - they have to sit still, are not allowed to speak, or distract either you or the examiner in any way.
The difference is that at present it is your responsibility to tell the examiner that you would like someone to accompany you before the test commences, whereas from 6th April 2010, the examiner will be asking you if you'd like someone with you.
The DSA have stated:
"By having the observer present on the test, they'll be in the position to identify future development needs for a subsequent test or additional skills to build on after passing the test."(source:DirectGov - Driving Tests - bring your instructor along)
To help you decide whether you want someone else sitting in the back of the car during your driving test, let's look at the advantages and disadvantages of taking an observer along!
- The observer can see any mistakes you make whilst on test and identify aspects of your driving that many need remedial action whether you pass or fail
- Having a familiar person in the car with you may help you to relax
- You may find it off-putting and feel more nervous by having someone other than the examiner watching you
- Most driving school cars are "on the small side" and having someone sitting in the back may feel cramped
- Visibility may be obscured
- Extra people in the car means that it may handle slightly differently than you are used to
- Many driving instructors are accustomed to sitting in the back of the car during tests and are used to sitting completely still and silent, but if you've learnt to drive with a friend or relative, they may not find this easy - which may lead to criticism from the examiner
- Driving examiners are routinely monitored by their bosses at regular intervals to make sure that they are doing their jobs properly. When this happens an observer from the DSA will sit in the back to watch what the examiner is doing. If you want your observer along too, there could be four people in the car!