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Fear of stricter driving tests fuels queues in Brussels exam centres

12:42 28/12/2017

Expect a long wait if you want to pass your theory test in Brussels. Queues are forming from 5-6am to take the theory exam at centres in Evere and Anderlecht. Up to 500 people joined the line at the Evere centre in Rue Colonel Bourg on Wednesday morning.

And it’s not the school holidays provoking hordes of eager learner drivers, but the fear of planned reforms to the B-permit theory and practical driving exams in 2018. The tougher tests have already been introduced in the Flemish Region and come into effect in Wallonia from January 1.

In fact the rush to pass the exams is a result of a misunderstanding. The new reforms are not likely to be introduced in the Brussels Region until mid-2018 at the earliest as they have yet to be voted by parliament. Some learner drivers in Flanders are opting to take their test in Brussels to avoid the new stricter rules as the new rules allow Belgian residents to take the test in a centre of their choice.

In the theory exam, the first change concerns language. Learners can be accompanied by an interpreter, but only for one of the national languages – French, Dutch, German – or English. In the second change, questions on the written exam will be worth five points or one point, depending on the seriousness of the situation posed in the question. Exams contain 50 questions, and a candidate needs 41 points to pass.

At present in the practical test, two manoeuvres are required: parallel parking and a three-point turn in a narrow street. In future, there will be two compulsory operations from a longer list: three-point turn, reversing in a straight line, parallel parking between two vehicles or parking in reverse in a parking space.

A risk perception test has also been added by Goca, the organisation representing driving exam centres. It assesses the ability to drive independently, with and without a GPS but without instructions from the examiner.

Goca spokesperson Marie De Backer told RTBF news: “It’s not the contents or the questions in the exam that will change, but the rating that will be modified. It’s quite logical to rate more severely serious infractions like burning a red light or making a U-turn on a motorway, for example.”

There will also be four ways of obtaining your driving licence compared to two at present.

Module 1: Not through a driving school
The minimum period as a learner driver has been increased from 3 to 9 months. The maximum period has been reduced from 36 to 18 months. The learner driver must have driven 2,500 kms before they can take their test.

Module 2: Driving school and a teacher
From 17 years of age, 14 hours’ driving lessons with a recognised driving school followed by at least six months driving under the supervision of a teacher. The learner driver must have driven 2,500kms before taking the test.

Module 3: 20 hours driving school
From 18 years, 20 hours of lessons. Between 3 and 18 months unaccompanied as a learner driver. Logbook: at least 1,500kms.

Module 4: Driving school 30 hours
From 18 years-old, at least 30 hours’ driving lessons at a recognised driving school.
No provisional licence.


Written by Sarah Crew