Driving instructors

Letter from DVSA Managing Director to Driving Instructors Regarding Reduced Wait Times for Driving Tests and Suspension of Industrial Actions

Dear Colleague,

I am writing to update you on our driver testing work during these challenging times.

I’ll cover the strike situation, explain what we’re doing to increase the availability of car testing for your students, as well as clarify how we prioritize standards checks, and describe our work on truck testing.

Strike

The Public and Commercial Service (computer) agreed to suspend industrial action while talks continue. This means that there will be no industrial action on Monday 18 and Tuesday 19 October 2021 and that action without strike (work to rule) will not start from Wednesday 20 October.

This is great news for all of us, especially for your students whose tests are booked on Mondays and Tuesdays.

I will get back to you as soon as we know the outcome of our discussions with computer.

Help fight the heavyweight shortage of drivers

As many of you know, we have been very busy supporting the government’s top priority of tackling heavyweight shortage of drivers.

We have increased the availability of testing through a series of new measures, including streamlining legislation to speed up the time it takes to get a heavyweight license and receive support from Ministry of Defense examiners.

All of these initiatives are already having a significant impact by reducing wait times across the country for those who need to take a professional exam.

Independent work psychology study

To understand and address any health and wellness issues, we conducted a work psychology study to examine the impact on driving examiners of moving to an 8-day testing schedule.

The study made several recommendations, and we are developing an action plan to address them.

We want to work with local driving test managers and examiners to further develop the plan and implement priority recommendations and rebuild trust between our colleagues and DVSA before considering other ways of working.

Waiting times for car tests

The work we are doing to increase the number of car testing appointments continues and our work to increase the availability of car testing is a high priority for us.

We have made more tests available in:

  • revert to 7 tests per day for each examiner
  • make sure he is qualified DVSA employees who do not carry out tests as part of their daily work help carry out the tests
  • offer after-hours and weekend test drives

We will also be consulting on a range of regulatory measures, which aim to reduce the number of candidates who book a test who are not ready and give us greater flexibility to provide more tests. We will share more information on this in due course.

Unfortunately, the demand for testing remains very high. The current national average wait time for a car test is around 15 weeks. 79 test centers have a waiting time of up to 24 weeks.

Third party booking sites

When we restarted testing earlier this year, you told us that third-party booking sites were making it harder for you and your students to book tests.

Using bots (software programs that perform automated tasks, mimicking the behavior of human users), these sites reserved all available tests, especially short-term cancellations, and resold them for a premium or simply wasted them.

I am committed to creating fair and equitable conditions for people who book tests.

I also want to make sure that everyone who books a driving test can do so safely without risk to their personal data. The only way to be sure is if an individual books directly on GOV.UK, so we will continue to promote this in our communications to learners.

We have also invested in making it more difficult for bots to access our booking services. In addition to checking if the user accessing the system is human using CAPTCHA checks (e.g. click on all traffic light images), we have introduced Advanced Bot Protection (ABP) in our firewall, which allows better control of traffic on our reservation services.

We are already seeing the really positive impact of this. Since the introduction of ABPthere was a significant drop in traffic to the booking site as the ABP identifies and blocks bots that previously entered our booking system.

We will continue to look for ways to combat bots and make a real person using GOV.UK the safest and fairest way to book a driving test. I appreciate your support in promoting this issue to your students.

Standards checks

I know from the emails I received and talking to some of you during the recent ADINJC cases where there has been some confusion and misunderstanding about how we prioritize standard controls.

I encourage you to read our DVSA blog post with video link and our updated advice which should help clear up any misunderstandings.

You play an essential role in preparing your students for the driving test and we want to provide support to the instructors who need it most.

Thank you

I want to thank you for your hard work and dedication to helping prepare learner drivers for their road test.

There continue to be difficult times for all of us. However, we can reduce the testing backlog, help our industry recover, and help people stay safe on our roads by working together.

Yours faithfully,

Loveday Ryder
General manager
Driving and Vehicle Standards Agency