Estonia: New test vehicles, cameras and electronic assessment form

Since March 2007 it is obligatory for the candidate to perform the B category driving test only with the new test vehicle of Estonian Motor Vehicle Registration Centre (ARK) that is equipped with an electronic recording system. In the transition period to the new more modern system the old paper-based test assessment form was replaced by a multifunctional electronic assessment card.
The brand new test vehicles (Volkswagen Golf) are all equipped with different data recording devices that enable storage of all the information of the practical driving test. The recording system consists of the recording device, microphone, 2 cameras, GPS equipment, a brake pedal that is equipped with a signal (light effect and audible warning) and communication interface (minimum speed 54 Mbit/s).

The recording device picks up all images from the camera and saves them in its memory. The test vehicle cameras are both colour cameras. One camera in the test vehicle is directed to the front displaying the traffic. The second camera records the candidate as well as the examiner who is sitting in the passenger seat. Two microphones record the audio in the passenger seat and transfers this information directly into the recording device that is located in the luggage compartment of the test vehicle.

The practical driving test always starts with a 5 minutes test drive for the candidates in order to give them an opportunity to practice and get familiarized with the new test vehicle before the real driving test that lasts at least 60 minutes. All 3 special manoeuvres are performed during the practical driving test in low volume traffic. The practical driving test takes place in built-up areas and on open roads.

The reason for the development of the new system is the need to make the practical driving test more transparent for the candidates and the training providers. New trends and fast IT development has essentially simplified the daily work of our examiners by providing them with a modern and informative electronic assessment card. It is very easy and handy for the examiners to use and to fill out the electronic assessment card on their personal laptop computer that they carry along with them during the test.

The data recording system provides an excellent opportunity to analyse the entire practical driving test at a later stage. The recording device is able to read GPS (Global Positioning System) data and determine the G-force caused by excessive acceleration, braking and sudden turns. The GPS system also determines the exact location and direction of movement of the test vehicle in the real-time system. GPS locates very precisely all specific situations that may occur in traffic during the practical driving test (e.g. whether the test vehicle stopped in front of the pedestrian crossing or not, what was the speed of the vehicle while driving in built-up areas or on the open road, when was the brake pedal used by the examiner, etc).

The multifunctional electronic assessment card has a significant role for us now because this card allows for different possibilities to make statistical analyses of the practical driving test that has a great value for training providers, candidates and Estonian Motor Vehicle Registration Centre (ARK).

Our primary goal is to improve the quality of driver training and ensure road safety in Estonia. In order to achieve this goal in the longer term we are going to give regular feedback to the training providers based on specific statistical analyses that illustrates reality (e.g. what are the most common mistakes and problematic situations for the candidates, where these mistakes happen, how often and why, etc). Training providers should know which aspects of driver training should be improved and what kind of corrective measures should be applied in order to train safe drivers for life.

The practical usage of recording system provides a kind of knowledge and security to the c