Driving instructors

Letter from the Director General of the DVSA to driving school instructors: reducing wait times for driving exams and making every exam count

Dear Colleague,

As the year draws to a close, I want to thank you for your resilience, patience and support over the past year. In particular, I want to thank you for all you have done to help put newly qualified drivers on the road. By doing this, you have given them access to employment, education, health care and social activities. I know many of you also provide training for full license holders to improve their safety and skills. We recognize that achieving all of this under “normal” operating conditions is difficult enough no matter during the pandemic.

I know many of you will be concerned about the increase in coronavirus (COVID-19) cases following the emergence of the Omicron variant, and its potential impact on yourself, your families, your students and your business. . We and the Department of Transport are monitoring the situation closely and will continue to do so. We will let you know if anything affects our services as soon as we can.

I also want to keep you posted on the work that we are doing and that we have planned for early next year to help reduce wait times for driving tests.

Help stop the spread of COVID-19 to maintain drive tests

Our top priority is to protect you, the learner driver and our driving examiners. If driving examiners test positive for COVID-19, they must self-isolate for 10 days.

A single Driving Examiner who needs to self-isolate will result in the cancellation of 60 or more driving tests, even when we find ways to cover some of the tests they might have given.

To protect our driving examiners, we:

  • ensure the safety of our workplaces in the face of COVID
  • ask our examiners to have regular rapid lateral flow tests (these help identify people who have COVID-19 but are not having symptoms)

You and your students are required by law to wear a face cover when taking a driving test and your student when taking their driving test (unless they are exempt and tell us when they book their test. ).

If you book the test for your student, you can find out how to tell us that they cannot wear a face covering at wwww.gov.uk/book-pupil-driving-test.

If your student books their own test, they can find out how to tell us that they cannot wear a face covering at www.gov.uk/book-driving-test.

We also strongly encourage test takers to take rapid lateral flow tests before taking a test drive. This is a situation where people are at a higher risk of transmitting COVID-19, and getting tested can help stop this, protect you, and maintain our services for everyone.

You and your students are required by law to wear face covers during driving lessons and during a theory test to help protect everyone and help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Science shows Omicron is more transmissible than previous variants and we all have a role to play in helping prevent this. I also encourage you to get boosted now. You can book your booster on https://nhs.uk/covidvaccination to protect you, your friends and family.

Reduce waiting times for driving tests

You may have seen recent media reports about increasing wait times for driving tests and you may have already felt the impact this has on you, your students and your business.

In addition to all the steps we have already taken to reduce waiting times behind the wheel, as of December 6, local driving test officials are also carrying out driving tests 2 days a week. This is how the work they do to help new reviewers get up to speed.

Driving Examiner Recruitment

We have just completed the fourth phase of our driving examiners recruitment campaign.

Since we were able to resume in-car training in the spring, 126 new driving examiners have qualified and started testing. We have 23 more people in training and we have 60 more people signed up for courses starting in the new year. We will keep you posted in the coming months.

You can read recent blog posts on Despatch (https://despatch.blog.gov.uk) to learn more about how we train people.

To help speed up the training process, we have identified 28 qualified colleagues that we plan to train in January so that they can accompany us in the training of new recruits.

We aim to have 20 or more additional trainers in place from February to support our continuing education team for 6 months.

To help us train new examiners, they may be accompanied by another examiner, we ask that you inform your students that this might be a possibility for their test.

Make every test count

With the high wait times, we want to do everything possible to make every test count.

Bad weather

Getting all the tests possible is more vital than ever. We fully understand that none of your students want their test canceled after preparing for it so hard.

But unfortunately, we are in that part of the year where we may have to cancel testing at short notice due to bad weather. We only do this if absolutely necessary, and we do so for your safety and the safety of your student and our examiners.

If we have to cancel a test due to bad weather, we will automatically book the test for the next available date at the same drive test center and send the new details to the email used to book the test.

You can read our full bad weather cancellations advice on GOV.UK at www.gov.uk/driving-test/test-cancelled-bad-weather.

Learner drivers do not show up for their driving test

We’re also seeing more and more candidates failing to show up for their driving test without telling us. It ruins a date someone else could have used.

It is possible that this will happen because they are not ready and decide not to take the test.

40,533 learner drivers have not taken their driving test since their restart in April 2021.

The number of tests where this has happened has been steadily increasing. In November, more than 6,600 appointments were lost because people did not show up on the day that could have been used by others.

Reduce the number of unused test appointments

We also plan to remind learner drivers:

  • the documents they must bring to their driving test
  • the rules for using your own car
  • make sure the car is secure against COVID

We will explore the use of social media, email and SMS to do this in order to reduce the number of avoidable cancellations to an absolute minimum.

We will also remind learner drivers of the need to change or cancel their driving test appointment if they are no longer suitable.

We reintroduced the fee for short-term cancellations on June 14, 2021. This means that people who cancel their test less than 3 full working days in advance will have to pay again, unless they can prove that they tested positive for COVID-19. Some 36,000 candidates canceled within 3 days since testing resumed in April. If you could also have conversations with your students about the impact of no-shows on service, it would greatly help us in our efforts to make every test count.

Driving test change consultation

We will be launching a government consultation on a range of proposed driver test changes, which we plan to release in the new year.

These measures will ensure that learners are well prepared before taking their driving test and will give us more flexibility in when we can offer tests.

We will provide more details on the proposed changes and how you can participate in the consultation shortly.

Keep you posted

I know the uncertainty right now is worrying. And I know you are concerned about how you can support your customers, your business, and your family right now.

We will do our best to continue to monitor the situation and keep you informed.

But in the current situation things can change quickly and sometimes we can’t respond as quickly as we would like. In view of this, I ask you to be patient with us and we will keep you updated as soon as possible.

We respect the patience and professionalism the industry has shown throughout this pandemic, even though it has at times been incredibly frustrating given the multiple challenges we have faced.

I also invite you to keep up to date with the National Associations (NASP) Strategic Partnership of Driving Instructors website.

I wish you and your family and friends a Happy New Year and I hope you are all well and safe.

Yours faithfully,

Ryder Love Day
General manager
Driver and Vehicle Standardization Agency