DVSA has announced today that it will be creating 150,000 additional driving tests slots by asking full time staff with testing ability (currently working in other areas of the organisation) to return to frontline testing for the next 6 months, in a bid to bring test waiting times down.
From as early as next week the agency will be deploying any personnel who hold a warrant card back to driver testing. They will be asking those already trained colleagues to test full time over the next 6 months (effectively giving up other roles or projects within the agency in that period).
This will allow for the generation of an additional 150,000 driving test slots. These additional slots will be drip-fed into the booking system in fortnightly batches, starting from next Monday (4th October).
Whilst the release of such a large number of additional tests is good news, it will cause some disruption to other DVSA services, which the agency says it will work to try and keep to a minimum.
How this development will impact Part 2, 3 and Standards Checks
- Part 2 and 3 tests will still go ahead
- Standards Checks will be vastly reduced so you may find your upcoming check cancelled
- However, those ADIs flagged to be the most risky (i.e those who present a concerning number of poor quality test candidates or who have failed previous checks) will still be prioritised for a check
- Your test performance data (TIP data) will still be recorded and evaluated during this period to determine which ADIs should be prioritised when Standards Checks fully resume in a few months time
Will third party booking engines and bots be able to scrape up the new tests?
Work is ongoing to limit the ability of bots and other third party booking services to grab large tranches of tests, and those efforts will be stepped up to limit such entities taking advantage of the additional tests going into the system. Drip feeding the tests into the system on a fortnightly basis will also help limit third parties grabbing a lot of tests at once.
Are these extra staff being drafted in fully trained and experienced in conducting driving tests?
All warrant cardholders have the necessary training and on-the-job knowledge to return to full time testing. Many warrant cardholders have been helping out with the delivery of tests since the agency resumed testing post-lockdown, so have kept their skills and knowledge current.
National average waiting times
The current national average waiting time for a driving test is 20.4 weeks.
There are around 550,000 learners booked in and looking forward to their test.
Reasons for continuing waiting times issue
Waiting times are long due to:
- an increase in demand for driving tests
- sustained industrial action on civil service pay (Examiner industrial action)
- people’s concerns about not being able to book a test, which has led to a change in customers’ behaviour (i.e. customers booking tests much earlier in their learning to drive process)
Measures already taken by DVSA to reduce driving test waiting times:
- recruiting new driving examiners
- carrying out overtime, including at weekends and on public holidays
- asking local driving test managers to return to testing for 2 days a week
- increasing utilisation
- buying back leave from driving examiners
- inviting recently retired driving examiners to return to work
Read the DVSA announcement here.
Carly Brookfield, CEO of the Driving Instructors Association, explains the changes below: