Learners ‘should have to spot potholes to pass driving test’

The AA wants poor road surfaces to be included in the hazard perception test because of the damage they cause to vehicles. Picture: Yui Mok/PA Wire
The AA wants poor road surfaces to be included in the hazard perception test because of the damage they cause to vehicles. Picture: Yui Mok/PA Wire
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Learner drivers should have to prove they can spot potholes to pass the test, according to a motoring firm.

The AA wants poor road ­surfaces to be included in the hazard perception test because of the damage they cause to vehicles.

It also called for advice on what to do when drivers encounter a pothole to be added to the Highway Code.

A study released late last year showed Scottish roads were littered with the highest number of potholes in the UK and would stretch to a combined depth of nearly four miles. A total of 154,310 potholes were reported to Scottish councils in 2016 – around 16,000 more than the next worst-hit region, the south-west of England.

Hazard perception is part of the theory driving test and involves candidates identifying something that would cause them to take action such as slow down or change direction in 14 video clips.

The pass rate of the practical driving test fell to a nine-year low of 45 per cent after changes to make the exam more realistic were introduced in December last year.

The AA advises motorists who spot a pothole to:

● Slow down if necessary but keep an eye on the rear view mirror

● Stay in lane

● Avoid big swerves.

A survey of a small sample of driving instructors found that the majority have broken down during a lesson at least once in the past 12 months because of pothole-related damage, and many have to adapt lessons to avoid certain roads where there are too many potholes.

Some learners have even had to abandon a practical driving test because their car was damaged by a pothole, the AA was told.

Damage to tyres, wheels and suspension are the most ­common problems.

AA president Edmund King said: “It is a sad indictment of our poor road conditions that instructors are having to adapt their lessons to avoid potholed roads.

“More troubling is the fact that lessons and tests are being abandoned because of pothole-related breakdowns.

“This is damaging to learners’ confidence and to instructors; whose livelihoods depend on having a fit-for-purpose road network and an undamaged car.

“The situation is so serious that the hazard perception test and Highway Code need to change to reflect the state of the roads that learner drivers have to learn on.

“There is no advice for drivers about potholes anywhere in the Highway Code yet it is one of the most common hazards they encounter.”

The UK government said the DVSA keeps the driving test under constant review to make it as effective as possible.