DVSA’s new measures to help encourage learner drivers to be better prepared before taking their driving test met with cynicism in the industry

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.

30 thoughts on “DVSA’s new measures to help encourage learner drivers to be better prepared before taking their driving test met with cynicism in the industry”

  1. on my opinion standards between examiners varysome would pass a mistake others would mark as non fault worthy
    see stats between different test centers

    1. I totally agree a lot of examiners are not singing from the same hymn sheet it should look at pass and fails given with each examiner and the check test results.

      1. Philip blight

        I don’t think it will make any difference at all having been an instructor for 30 years I have seen many people fail the test and 90 per cent of it is with nerves or a silly mistake also my pupil would never be taken on a test if I thought they could not pass

  2. This will make no difference at all because learners believe they are ready when they go. Only learners with an instructor will have a clue about their ability and even then they often disagree and take their test in their own car.

    1. Joe anonymous

      DVSA should ask them selves why it’s always been around 50% for eternity. How can it be that consistent! I do not want open up a debate or get tons of horrible messages, I’m just going state what I had experienced. After speaking to an examiner once they said if they are seen to be over the national average pass rate they can dragged to the size an questioned why? example bribes etc. Also would tricker their own standard check.

      Maybe corruption is with in DVSA it’s self. DVSA are not fit while government etc are corrupt, crawling out the woodwork every week. Examiners striking is not strictly over pay its how they are treated by DVSA.

  3. I really don’t think this will affect anyone in a positive way because of the long wait for tests. Plus the fact people will lose fee if they do not give the extended notice won’t affect the majority of those booking tests when not ready because they are chancers. I regularly get calls and messages from people who have booked tests and then want me to drop my existing customers to take them to test . They even try and make it my problem. But I point out that most professional instructors won’t consider taking someone to test before assessing their ability and readiness. I also hate the barrage of emails undermining pupils confidence on the approach to their test.

    1. agree with you.
      as for the barrage of emails they receive, i book all my tests and shield them from them. i don’t pass them on. i only have one learner who booked her own and the amount if ready to pass emails she got was undermining her confidence.
      also with a one week course, getting emails weeks before asking if you’ve successfully done a mock test yet! they’ve not sat in a car yet!

      fiddling while rome burns..

  4. I suspect that they were going to make the announcement on Saturday then realised that it would be taken as an April Fools Gag.

  5. The pass rate has always been below 50% nationally for as long as I can recall. So what is the problem with the proposal?

    The cries of employability and mobility are a reason to put some effort it to making sure that you do pass first time and you are competent and safe. Maybe cutting the number of driving faults to say 10 before an automatic fail is recorded might focus the mind of the candidate.

    When you spread the cost of learning to drive over the length of your licence it’s us less than a £1 a day. When you add in the benefits of having the licence for employment and general mobility it is worth every penny that you have spent.

    People forget that the driving test is nothing more than a basic test of competence. That is not setting the bar very high at all.

    Driver training is still a cottage industry. There is little respect for the trainer, from the customer or the registrar.

  6. Peter Burniston

    What about tests that are cancelled 4 weeks before, and rebooked for 4 weeks later. No explanation on why this is happening, this is not helping with the backlog.
    The only way to get through the backlog is do more tests each day. Work later in the summer months, while we have longer days.

    Finishing at 3:30pm daily is not going to get through the backlog.

  7. Talking to fellow ADI’s I can say the majority feel the DVSA are not fit for purpose. They’re not concerned about bringing test waiting times down (currently over 6 months in Rhyl). Examiners are arrogant and ignorant therefore making a “them” and “us” situation. Industry bodies such as DIA are just a mouth piece for the DVSA, almost as if they can do no wrong and we must bow down to their superior knowledge. The whole testing system needs putting out to tender in the private sector, we might then see some improvement

    1. Well if you only spoke to a handful of instructors, that’s hardly a majority is it. Putting the system out to private tender will lead to a situation where profit will come before service. Your comment “examiners are arrogant and ignorant” is an insult to the thousands of examiners throughout the UK. Your post comes across that YOU are arrogant and ignorant. Looking at the pass stats, it would appear that us ADI’s are not fit for purpose if we can only get a % of the 50% pass rate.

  8. Absolutely agree with DVLSA – any good instructor knows if their pupil is ready to take their test.( Maybe due to pressure from pupils or parents due to costs but how much is a pupils life worth). Many parents believe we are trying to get as much money as possible from our pupils- rather than caring about their future safety on the roads. Still used to get “ I only had 10 lessons and passed first time from parents- little do they realise it’s unlikely they would pass the test these days. We CAN and SHOULD refuse to take pupils on their test when we know they are not ready- even if it means losing their custom. It’s not about money – these young people are vulnerable and are not fully aware of the dangers that lie ahead of them. The statistics that show the examiners have to physically intervene in 1 to 8 tests proves they are clearly not capable of dealing with situations on their own ( imagine the outcome) Instructors should tell both the pupils and their parents of the DVLA s findings.

  9. Stewart Haskett

    Do the dvsa realise the danger they put them selves in every day by allowing people to take their tests in own cars without dual controls,isn’t it about time that you have to attend a driving test with a fully trained adi who would be able to ensure they’re ready for a lifetime of driving,by doing this I personally
    think more than likely the current pass rate will improve.

  10. Martin Lyons

    When are the DVSA going to accept that the long (6/7month ) wait for a driving test is putting increased pressure on test candidates. As the candidates are more than fully aware that one lapse of concentration is going to mean they have to wait another 6 months for a test.
    Moving the length of time between test is just pure semantics.
    DVSA needs to stop blaming instructors and start taking responsibility and get the waiting times down. That needs to be their number one priority. No more consultations on this that or the other. No more passing the buck emails to instructors. Focus on the lead time and nothing else.

  11. I really can’t understand how the DVSA interprets statistics.
    “31% of people agree to this statement so we are going to go with it.”
    That means 69% disagree. More than two thirds. What was the point in asking the question?
    Maybe if they asked us ADIs what could help and LISTENED then they might be able to make some more appropriate changes to help reduce the backlog.

  12. Michael John Harper

    Sick and tired of silly decisions from the DVSA. It’s drivers going to test without an ADI that’s at the route of the problem of low pass rates. As an experienced ADI I’ve found on average 1 in 5 of my well prepared drivers fail (ie 80% pass). So making the drivers make 28 days is NOT going to help. The ones that fail normally fail for an unusual situation or for nerves. Waiting longer for retake won’t help.

  13. Robin Lamport

    It’s blatently obvious the booking system is broken. I have tried to get a test using the current system. I’m now into my third week without a responce. For gods sake stop these apps. The stress to both student and myself is getting far worse. I’ve a student that has booked a 715 am in Herne Bay in a couple of weeks. I’ve told him to stay overnight at the Premier as I’m not prepared to get up at 5am for this test. Whoever DVSA are asking are certainly the wrong people to ask. Get back to pre pandemic and pay examiners £35K for starters then they might not leave and have potential instructors to progress to being one. I’m too old now and good luck to those following our steps.Talking seems to be not working with all bodies concerned.

  14. Failing a Driving Test for some pupils is a traumatic and bitterly disappointing experience especially with the considerable pressure they have imposed by a very long wait (and impossibility) to book their next test. I have just had a pupil (of mature age) fail her test on a ‘very questionable’ Serious fault by the Examiner. I sat in on the Test
    and was aghast of the unfair judgement especially as the rest of the drive was almost faultless (still 3 minors !!)
    My point is simple 1) The pupil is a really good driver and would have almost certainly passed if the Test was retaken immediately after. (sorry – stood a less than 50% chance of passing !!)
    2) The implications of an unbelievably long waiting list for a retest has now jeopardised her job and career prospects.
    This is by no means an isolated example of the results of an already appalling Driver Test System

  15. jtdang_12@hotmail.com

    1. extending the period that those who fail their car test have to wait before booking another test from 10 to 28 days.
    What is the chance of a learner finding a test within a month, 6 months we have to wait for a test now? Even if they had to wait a month, they would only start training again about a week or 2 before the test. So how does this help.
    2. extending the notice period during which a cancelled car test will result in a lost fee, from 3 to 10 days.
    So you want to take their money because they cannot cancel later and so force them to take the test if they are not quite ready, would it not make more sense if you allow them to change it to someone else without losing their fees 1 day before the test, changing a different person should not take 3 days time. This is just fleecing the learners of their fees.

    The solution is to pay Examiners more money and then we would be able to recruit more examiner and cut the waiting list down. Instructors with more dates available can then better manage their students test time.

    1. I agree with that comment. So many turn up to test centres in their car and can’t drive. We do exams and been driving for a while and we know how to get pupils though test. Should only be instructors allowed on test with pupils so they should be at a good standard to pass their test. Only people should be able to book a test for a pupil should be instructors with the ref number that will solve a bit of the back log instead of any one can book test

  16. Nick Thompson

    I’m a cynic but Isn’t this really just a blatant attempt to ‘fudge’ figures by the DVSA ? We all can see they are never going to get the backlog figures down as it currently is ?
    They’ve thrown money at it , brought people out of retirement , recruited and apparently laid on a few 100k extra tests last year but the figure got even worse . I don’t know exact figures here , but let’s say 100k take their tests and at the current sub 50% pass rate , more than half fail – then it looks very much to me like a 28 day cooling off period , suddenly takes 50k off their figures ?! Is it just me ??

  17. Khalid Qureshi

    It will reduce pressure on both pupils and ADIs if these scamming apps are prohibited to access DVSA’s booking system

  18. Khalid Qureshi

    It will reduce pressure on both, the pupils and ADIs if these scamming apps are prohibited to access DVSA’s booking system

  19. LThe first thing that needs to happen is that everyone should have to learn with a fully qualified
    Driving instructor, and only Instructors take them on their test, private practice is all well and good when their habits are set in stone, the second point is that the driving instructor has to sign that the candidate is test ready, we as instructors would not sign if that person was not ready, for a period of time there would be 2 waiting lists for tests one where the candidate has been signed of as test ready, with no more than say 4 weeks to wait for a test, the pass rates would be a lot higher than they are now, the other waiting list would be those that have tests already booked, After a length of time this backlog would come down and every candidate would have to be signed by their instructor as test ready,
    While I’m on here all examiners would have had to been a driving instructor.
    The big problem in all walks of life is that people who make decisions have no experience
    This includes the Dvsa, Look at it like a ladder we cannot arrive at the top rung without stepping on the rungs in between, My example whilst I’m here is Smart motorways this topic
    Does not require a survey, a decision made with no experience,
    Regards Andrew.

  20. Eddie Cliffe

    At test Center a few weeks ago saw a candidate turned away as examiner unavailable. At the same time another examiner had a no show. This resulted in the candidate who’s examiner was unavailable being sent away and the examiner with the No show left kicking her heels for an hour. My question to her was why she could t take the candidate that was turned away. The answer was that each test candidate is allocated to an examiner and that they could not swop. The excuse given is they can’t enter a different name on their IPad as this only done at the booking stage and there wasn’t a method available to do a swop. The result on this occasion was 2 test slots lost. I had a similar situation years ago when the TCM came out and told my candidate s examiner had been taken Sick and could take him for test. I asked the manger Why he could t take the test, he looked at me in surprise said he had paperwork to do. When I said rhat paperwork was more important he said I will make phone call. Came back and said he would take candidate on test. Result was a pass and common sence .
    Shame DVSA don’t adopt that attitude today.

  21. Could write pages and pages
    In short.
    ADIs are charged, tested and approved by the DVSA.
    ADIs are then subjected to take any more tests and pay any extra fees that the DVSA decides at any point to propose to include changes at the DVSAs own discretion. Who are the people making these decisions? Are they driving instructors who have moved on to work for the DVSA? Are they Examiners who have moved onto work for the DVSA?
    I don’t know but would be good to find this information. ADIs are being continually undemined by the DVSA ever since the pandemic.
    The majority of ADIs know and understand that any pupils not test ready shouldn’t be allowed to take a test!
    And even now with the current system being a busted flush most of us won’t allow any pupils to take test unless ready. However the system is broken.
    And it’s not the ADIs fault. It’s a problem the DVSA need to fix and fix fast!
    Waiting times are and have been the problem since the pandemic. We all get that. However pupils now cannot even get a test through the DVSA booking system. They have to pay extra to a “test finder”! Some are charging as much as £200! And probably more. And the test finders are registered ADIs! wow.
    How can the DVSA not expect candidates that aren’t ready not to turn up for tests when waiting times for new tests are upto 6 months later and especially when they felt no other option than paying extra for test?
    This is just going to get worse. Doesn’t matter about 28 day wait for new test if fail. Its all just a smoke screen as far as I can work out to lay blame on instructors. Stop the “Bots” from being able to grab all tests and then candidates who are ready will be able to get a test at a date that works resulting in less failures. Publish the numbers of no shows for practical tests too! As this would also be greatly reduced if you Stop the “Bots” leaving more tests for test ready pupils! Honestly could go on and on. Basically DVSA needs to shoulder some blame and take responsibility and sort their own issues. Blah blah blah.

  22. obviously just another government funded party only interested in supporting the DVSA. And being financially backed by the DVSA and or its representatives. Ridiculous. DVSA is an absolute shambles who can’t or will not accept any responsibility for the utter chaos they have allowed the practical test booking system to become! Stop trying to push the blame onto ADIS who for the record have had to pay to be tested by this government agency and have also note been passed fit for purpose to be a qualified ADI. Problem is with test waiting times. Period! Us ADIs can’t control or manage this ongoing and increasingly unacceptable situation. Only the DVSA have the powers to get this problem under control and indeed put a complete stop to the ever increasing “bots” that are taking every single test available. And as you all know charging evermore higher prices for pupils to book a test. It’s a disgrace. And more importantly it’s ADIS who are being allowed to abuse a broken system that the DVSA seem to be turning a blind eye too?? very strange.
    Oh and for the record I posted another message here last night. Even more condemning. Funny its not here on this post? Probably won’t see this one either! But will screenshot as proof this time!!

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