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Last Updated: Sunday, 31 August, 2003, 04:07 GMT 05:07 UK
Drivers 'ignorant of new test'
Many learners are unaware of major changes to the format of the driving test which will take effect from Monday, one firm has alleged.

Knowledge about basic maintenance of a car will now be a feature of the practical test set by the Driving Standards Agency.

But driving instruction firm BSM said many of those hoping to take their test were unaware of the new questions.

"We welcome the new questions as part of the ongoing campaign to raise UK driving standards, but I think we may well see quite a few red faces on Monday," said BSM managing director Paul Atkinson.

Candidates will be asked to demonstrate their knowledge of the functions of a car and safety issues.

Questions will cover issues concerning the tyres, brakes, fluids, lights, reflectors, direction indicators, and horns.

Asked at the start of the test, if would-be motorists flunk the questions it will count as one driving fault out of the maximum of 15 allowed before a fail.

The changes to the test are part of a drive to cut the number of accidents caused by poorly-maintained cars.

The DSA's chief driving examiner Robin Cummins said: "If your lights aren't working properly or your tyres are worn you run the risk of being involved in an accident.

"Anyone who has found they are out of screen wash just when they need it during a motorway journey will tell you how dangerous driving can be if your vehicle isn't prepared for the journey.

"By knowing how to keep your vehicle basically maintained you can avoid both accidents and police charges.

"It makes common sense to ensure that new drivers and riders have a basic grounding in how to make these simple safety checks."

The BBC's Wyre Davies
"A basic understanding of how your car works will be as important as knowing how to drive"

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