Chief Executive of the Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency, gives us some insight into his thoughts on the industry
Educated at Monmouth School, he went on to study Chemistry and Oceanography at Swansea Uni, followed by a Masters in Oceanography at the University of Southampton. Since then, Gareth Llewellyn has spent most of his career in the private sector, where he has become renouned for his ability to put visions into practice, encouraging people to work together and achieve the best of their ability on their road to success and satisafaction.
He has held global executive roles with National Grid and Anglo American, winning a number of awards for his work on responsible business practices and safety. As a non-executive director, Gareth floated the waste management company Biffa plc and established the DfT’s Renewable Fuels Agency. More recently he spent time as Executive Director at Network Rail where he was instrumental in positively changing the culture of the organisation. Along with his interest in sustainable development, he’s well known for his strong focus on human rights. As a founder member of the Business Leaders Initiative on Human Rights, in 2005 he became the first person from industry to be invited to address the United Nations General Assembly on the role of business in upholding and raising the standards of human rights. In April 2016, Gareth became the Chief Executive of the DVSA.
I was playing cricket that afternoon… my team mates got to hear I was taking my driving test and so proceeded to walk down the middle of the road ahead of me. The examiner became immensely cross with them and I suspect quite sympathetic to me. I passed.
Training has advanced significantly since… the advent of the theory test and hazard perception test gave candidates the opportunity to experience challenging situations in a safe environment. The new practical driving test is the best in the world, and the training which is required to pass is improving all the time.
Transport issues have been part of my career for a very long time… haulage trucks in the mining industry, pilots on the largest container vessels to visit a UK port, the national rail network, and now to drivers and vehicles. Transport safety is a critical success factor.
The new driving test… the most significant change for a decade and will, I believe, play a major role in preparing people for a lifetime of safe driving.
The dangers facing young novice drivers… part of our 5-year strategy is to find ways of ‘coaching’ young drivers after they start driving on their own to help reduce the risk they face. Social media post-test provides a great opportunity to help in this space.
EVs and their auto gearboxes are the future… it is important that drivers in the UK are able to proficiently and safely control the vehicle they choose to drive, whether automatic or manual. Even with the introduction of more modernised technological vehicles there will be a foreseeable market for driving older, manual type vehicles.
Autonomous cars are on the horizon… however, we will be living with a mixed fleet for some time yet. In this transition period, we will need to assess how the driving test changes, how the MoT process will change and how tools such as the Theory Test can be adapted to give drivers experience of driving in and alongside autonomous cars.
Future proofing training and testing… one of the reasons for making changes to the driving test was to ensure that new drivers have the capability to utilise some of the modern functions within vehicles, such as sat navs.
When we purchase or hire a vehicle, we are rarely shown how to use the technology, such as the sat nav or safety components of the vehicle. We are keen that drivers know how to make the most of new vehicle features to help them drive safely. We will be working with manufacturers to help their customers maximise the benefits of the safety features on their vehicles.
Over the next year or so we will replace the old paper forms… using a digital tablet and digitising the driving test results we can identify why candidates fail and feed this back to their driving instructors. We can then offer advice and guidance to ADIs on how to improve their training which should benefit their candidates.
Putting road safety back at the heart of what DVSA does has been an important focus for me, and one of the themes of our strategy is ‘Helping you through a lifetime of safe driving’. DVSA will make sure that: learner drivers have access to information that helps them choose the best instructor for their needs; learner drivers have the skills, knowledge and experience they need to pass their test first time; and instructors and trainers provide a high standard of driving tuition. If we can deliver this we will make a significant dent in the safety statistics.
Children access information through many more routes… I firmly believe DVSA has a role to play in pushing road safety messages to people of all ages through routes such as social media, on-line games, and video-streaming sites. We have great material such as CGIs of various hazards. The task is how we can exploit this material in a way which makes the learning interesting.
As technology changes, and traffic and road conditions change, so we have to adapt our approach to driving.
I have always had a soft spot for the Jaguar SS100… perhaps because it seems to hark back to an era when driving was fun and roads were less congested.