Driver testing and industrial action
Loveday Ryder writes to ADIs
DVSA CEO letter to ADIs to update on progress of recovery and industrial action:
I am writing to update you on our driver testing work during these challenging times.
I will cover the situation on strike action, explain what we are doing to increase car test availability for your pupils, as well as clarifying how we are prioritising standards checks and outlining our work on lorry tests.
PCS has agreed to suspend industrial action while talks continue. This means there will be no industrial action on Monday 18 and Tuesday 19 October 2021 and action short of strike (work to rule) will not begin from Wednesday 20 October.
This is great news for all of us, especially your pupils with tests booked on Monday and Tuesday.
I’ll update you again once we know the outcome of our discussions with PCS.
Helping to tackle the HGV driver shortage
As many of you will be aware, we have been very busy supporting the government’s top priority of helping to tackle the HGV driver shortage.
We have increased the availability of tests through a range of new measures, including streamlining legislation to speed up the time it takes to get an HGV licence and receiving support from Ministry of Defence examiners. All of these initiatives are already having a significant impact by reducing waiting times across the country for those needing to take a vocational test.
Independent occupational psychology study
To understand and address any health and wellbeing issues, we took forward an occupational psychology study to look at the impact on DEs of bringing in the change to an 8-test day schedule.
The study made several recommendations, and we are developing an action plan to address them.
We want to work with LDTMs and examiners to develop the plan further and to implement the priority recommendations and rebuild trust between our colleagues and DVSA before considering any different ways of working.
Car test waiting times
The work we are doing to increase the number of car test appointments continues and our work to increase car test availability is a big priority for us.
We have made more tests available by:
• returning to 7 tests a day for each examiner
• ensuring qualified DVSA employees who don’t carry out tests as part of their day job help with testing
• offering out of hours and weekend driving tests
We will also be consulting on a range of regulatory measures, which aim to reduce the number of candidates booking a test who are not ready and give us greater flexibility to provide more tests. We’ll share more information on this in due course.
Unfortunately, demand for tests continues to be very high. The current national average waiting time for a car test is around 15 weeks. 79 test centres have a waiting time of the maximum 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 pupils to book tests.
Using BOTS (software programs performing automated, tasks imitating human user behaviour) these sites were booking up any available tests, especially short notice cancellations, and either selling them on at a premium or just wasting them.
I’m committed to creating a fair and level playing field for people booking tests.
I also want to make sure everyone who books a driving test can do so safely without risk to their personal data.
The only way to be sure of this is for an individual to book directly on GOV.UK, so we’ll continue to promote this in our communications to learners.
We have invested in making it harder for BOTS to access our booking services, too. In addition to checking if the user accessing the system is human using Captcha checks (for example, click on all the images of traffic lights), we’ve introduced Advanced BOT Protection (ABP) into our firewall, which gives greater scrutiny of traffic on our booking services.
We’re already seeing the really positive impact of this. Since the introduction of ABP, there has been a significant drop in traffic to the booking site because the ABP is identifying and blocking BOTS which were previously getting into our booking system.
We’ll keep looking for ways to tackle the BOTS and making a real person using GOV.UK the safest and fairest way to book a driving test. I welcome your support in promoting this issue to your pupils.
I know from emails I’ve received and speaking to some of you at the recent ADINJC event that there has been some confusion and misunderstanding around how we are prioritising standard checks.
I encourage you to read our DVSA blog post with video link and our updated guidance which should help to clear up any misunderstandings.
You play a vital role in preparing your pupils for the driving test and we want to provide support to those instructors who need it most.
I would like to thank you for your continuing work and dedication to help prepare learner drivers for their driving test.
There continues to be challenging times ahead for all of us. However, we can reduce the test backlog, help our industry recover and support people to stay safe on our roads by working together.
Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency