The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) is changing the driving test booking system.

Changes will take place this summer  and have a two fold purpose – firstly to help reduce general test waiting times for candidates and, secondly, try to raise preparedness for the test to reduce failure numbers.

Are you ready?

DVSA is on an ongoing campaign to encourage learner drivers to only book and take their driving test when they are properly prepared – Ready to Pass.

The statistics from February 2023 show that around 53% of learner drivers are failing their car driving test. Furthermore, driving examiners are having to physically intervene in 1 in 8 tests for safety reasons. This suggests that more than half are not ready to take their test or drive safely and responsibly on their own.

Planned changes are intended to help improve pass rates, make more tests available for those who are ready, helping reduce driving test waiting times.

They are part of a package of measures that were put to public consultation in 2022.

These include:

  • extending the period that those who fail their car test have to wait before booking another test from 10 to 28 days. This will give learners more time to practice between tests.
  • extending the notice period during which a cancelled car test will result in a lost fee, from 3 to 10 days. This will encourage learners who need more practice to give DVSA more notice when cancelling giving better prepared learners more chance to take advantage of short-notice test appointments.

The consultation results to extend the booking period showed that:

  • 1% of approved driving instructors who responded were in favour
  • most industry organisations and road safety organisations were supportive and agreed with the proposals
  • 1 in 3 learners told us this would encourage them to only book their test when they are ready, even if waiting times remained the same as now.
  • 8% of learners said this measure would encourage them to only book their test when ready, even if waiting times were reduced. Compared to 42.2% who said it would not change their behaviour.

Agreed changes

Consultation results revealed that 46.8% of driving instructors agreed with the proposal. That’s slightly more than those who disagreed (46.0%).

Learners will get a refund if they have an illness (including COVID-19) or injury that means they cannot take their test. This is also valid if a candidate suffers a bereavement, is taking an exam at a school or college, or has had their driving licence stolen. They will still need to provide the necessary evidence inline with the current policy.

DVSA will also continue to pay out-of-pocket expenses for any car driving tests they cancel with less than three clear working days’ notice. But the agency add that this will be reviewed again.

A set date for the changes has yet to be confirmed.

With more than half of people failing their driving test , it is clear more needs to be done to make sure learner drivers only take their test when they are fully prepared,” states Loveday Ryder, DVSA CEO

“These new measures will help make sure test-ready learners find appointments and give those who fail more time for more practice.

“I also urge learners to check out our Ready to Pass? website to make sure they’re ready – and delay their test if they’re not. This will help make more tests available and prevent them having to pay to re-test.”

Read the full consultation results here.

On display

ADIs will also be mandated to display their professional certificates when they take pupils for test. It allows DVSA to capture pupil’s performance data.

The proposal was well supported by learners. In addition, 79% of learner drivers told us that they want to know more about their driving instructor’s performance data.

It’s a move designed as a means to gather more detailed information and statistics. These can be used in two ways:

  • to help understand are any patterns in the types of faults any particular ADI’s pupils are making
  • provide more accurate info to improve understanding of teaching standards, which can also be used for consumer information in future as learners look for an Instructor.

DVSA also believes these measures will contribute to learner drivers being better prepared for test. This is achieved by encouraging Instructors to only bring their pupils when they are confident that they are ready.

These measure will require changes to legislation in Parliament.

Many ADIs have registered concerns about these measures, not least how they may be used for con summers information. It is felt that the statistics could be misleading and penalise Instructors taking on more difficult pupils or those with additional needs.

The DVSA is publishing a blog post about the issues and working with the driving instructors National Association of Strategic Partnership (NASP).

It will cover:

  • raising the recognition of the ADI certificate and the professionalism of qualified ADIs
  • understanding and overcoming the barriers to displaying ADI certificates
  • starting to explore what consumer information that you would support being made available
  • help learner drivers and their family and friends to make informed choices

The eyes have it

DVSA will also work with DVLA to explore different ways to test eyesight on test. Being able to read a number plate attached to a vehicle is generally regarded as an outdated method. It will also enable the provision of driving tests at more times, in different levels of light.

This and all  other interventions will be introduced when parliamentary time allows.

Ready to Pass? Campaign

In February 2023 over 1 in 5 learner drivers used the campaign to help them to prepare for their driving test and 94% of them found the content on the campaign website useful – which includes:

• explaining the 27 skills on the driver’s record and the 5 levels of progress you will make through each skill
• debunking some of the most common driving test myths
• explaining what we recommend should be in a mock driving test
• providing practical tips on managing driving test nerves and giving more information about how and where to learn mindfulness techniques

If your pupils haven’t already used the campaign website to help them prepare, encourage them to go and view it. It includes simple checks for them to do to see if they are ready for their test.

We know that 72.8% of ADIs we asked are already using the resource on the site to support their pupils and carry out checks to make sure they are ready to take their test and encourage those who are not, to delay.

Roads Minister Richard Holden says “road safety must always come first and it’s important that learners only take their driving test when they are ready to do so”.

Holden adds that these changes will “ make sure applicants only take tests when they’re fully prepared and ready to pass.”

Visit the ‘Ready to Pass?’ here.