Late last week, the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) announced a number of planned changes to the driving test booking system, aimed at encouraging learner drivers to only book and take their driving test when they are properly prepared.
Drawing on statistics from February 2023, which showed that around 53% of learner drivers are failing their car driving test and driving examiners are having to physically intervene in 1 in 8 tests for safety reasons, DVSA are concerned that more than half of pupils are not ready to take their test or drive safely and responsibly on their own.
The main changes are planned (to be introduced in summer 2023) 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 regulator claims that the 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 publicly consulted in 2022.
However, whilst there has some cautious support for the moves in the industry, some trainers and pupils have reacted with cynicism at the moves, claiming that the changes will only exacerbate waiting time issues for both pupils and trainers (still dealing with training backlogs), with the potential to cause barriers to employment and mobility for those who need a licence for work, study etc. Trainers also point out that, given continuing waiting time issues across the UK, pupils will be lucky to book a new test within 6 months!
Episode three of DIA Motormouth (see below) discusses the changes with some interesting viewpoints from both the panel and listeners.