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By Tristan Harris Wednesday 09 January 2013 Updated: 14/01 15:15
LEARNER drivers in Bromsgrove will soon be able to take their practical tests in the town for the first time in 17 years, thanks to a new scheme.
The Standard revealed in July that plans to offer more localised testing were being considered by the Government and they have now been officially confirmed by Road Safety Minister, MP Stephen Hammond.
From next month, Halfords up and down the country, including the one on Birmingham Road, will be used as the bases for tests, which will be carried out by Driving Standards Agency (DSA) examiners. A special area will be put aside for candidates in each Halfords and it is anticipated around 1,500 tests will be conducted at the Bromsgrove store.
One driving instructor, David Mann, from ADI Bromsgrove Driving School, welcomed the move and said he was looking forward to the tests returning to the town.
"I think it's an excellent idea - a good driving instructor will always teach someone good driving practice so they are able to drive anywhere at any time.
"But driving around an area they know will make them feel more comfortable on the day of their test, which can only be a good thing."
Mr Mann, who has been a driving instructor for three years, said it would also save his students time and money and be good for the environment.
At the moment, he takes his learners around Redditch to familiarise them with the test route - having one in Bromsgrove will cut down on mileage.
It is not yet known what Bromsgrove's test route will be, but a Driving Standards Agency (DSA) spokesperson said test routes were designed to assess a candidate’s ability to drive safely in a variety of road and traffic conditions.
"Routes offer candidates the opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge of the Highway Code and will include different types of junctions - traffic lights, roundabouts and left and right hand turns."
He said the test would also include a ten-minute 'independent driving' section where candidates would have to demonstrate their ability to drive without detailed instructions.
And he added the criteria was the same across the country to ensure standards were consistent wherever the test was taken.
Halfords' commercial director Paul McClenaghan said it was a natural next step for the company, which prided itself on being a ‘friend of the motorist’.
“Halfords is already a destination for motorists, who come to us for a range of automotive products and fitting services, so why not driving tests as well?
“We look forward to welcoming many learner drivers to our stores where we hope that they will enjoy a successful start to their motoring journey.”
Mr Hammond added: "This is a great example of working with private sector partners to provide an important local service that is convenient as well as being cost effective.”
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