LEARNER drivers in East Lancashire will have to safely use sat navs to pass their test as part of a major overhaul of the assessment.

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) is also planning to double the length of independent driving to 20 minutes and replace manoeuvres such as reversing around a corner with more common scenarios like driving into a parking bay.

Motoring research charity RAC Foundation said it is the most significant shake up of the test since the written theory exam was introduced in 1996.

The measures, which will come into force in December, will help save lives, according to transport minister Andrew Jones.

He said: “We have some of the safest roads in the world but we are always looking to make them safer.

“These changes announced will help reduce the number of people killed or injured on our roads and equip new drivers with the skills they need to use our roads safely.

“Ensuring the driving test is relevant in the 21st Century, for example the introduction of sat navs, will go a long way towards doing this.”

Road accidents are the biggest killer of young people, accounting for more than a quarter of all deaths of those aged between 15 and 19.

DVSA chief executive Gareth Llewellyn said the organisation's priority is to help learner drivers through a lifetime of safe driving.

He said: “Making sure the driving test better assesses a driver’s ability to drive safely and independently is part of our strategy to help you stay safe on Britain’s roads.

“It’s vital that the driving test keeps up to date with new vehicle technology and the areas where new drivers face the greatest risk once they’ve passed their test.”

Figures show around half of all car drivers own a sat nav.

Reducing the focus on slow speed manoeuvres in quiet roads will allow examiners to better assess the ability of learners to drive safely in busier areas, the DVSA said.