New measures will help encourage learner drivers to be better prepared before taking their driving test

Screenshot of driving test booking system on website

A message from DVSA:

Today (30 March 2023), the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) is announcing planned changes to the driving test booking system due to happen in summer 2023. These are aimed at encouraging learner drivers to only book and take their driving test when they are properly prepared.

The statistics from February 2023 show 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. This suggests that more than half are not ready to take their test or drive safely and responsibly on their own. 

These 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.

The changes are planned be introduced in summer 2023. They 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 consultation results to extend the booking period showed that:

  • 37.1% of approved driving instructors who responded were in favour  
  • most industry organisations and road safety organisations were supportive and agreed with the proposals
  • 1 in 3 learners told us this would encourage them to only book their test when they are ready, even if waiting times remained the same as now.
  • 42.8% of learners said this measure would encourage them to only book their test when ready, even if waiting times were reduced. Compared to 42.2% who said it would not change their behaviour. 

The results to extend the notice period for cancelled car test showed that 46.8% of driving instructors agreed with the proposal. That’s more than those who disagreed (46.0%). 

Learners will get a refund if they have an illness (including COVID-19) or injury that means they cannot take their test, suffer a bereavement, take an exam at a school or college, or have their driving licence stolen. They will still need to provide the necessary evidence inline with the current policy.

We will continue to adhere to our policy of paying out-of-pocket expenses for any car driving tests we cancel with less than 3 clear working days’ notice the same.

However, we will review this. 

Once the date of the changes has been confirmed, we will contact learner drivers and driving instructors who are affected by both these changes.

These changes follow the launch of DVSA’s Ready to Pass? campaign which is helping learners properly prepare for their driving test by carrying out simple checks to make sure they are ready to take it.

Loveday Ryder, DVSA CEO, said

With more than half of people failing their driving test , it is clear more needs to be done to make sure learner drivers only take their test when they are fully prepared. 

“These new measures will help make sure test-ready learners find appointments and give those who fail more time for more practice.

“I also urge learners to check out our Ready to Pass? website to make sure they’re ready – and delay their test if they’re not. This will help make more tests available and prevent them having to pay to re-test.”

The proposal to introduce new measures to mandate driving instructors to display their certificate on driving tests was well supported by learners. In addition, 79% of learner drivers told us that they want to know more about their driving instructor’s performance data. 

Roads Minister Richard Holden said:

“While driving is a fantastic gateway to independence, road safety must always come first and it’s important that learners only take their driving test when they are ready to do so.

“That’s why it’s great to see DVSA continue to push forward its #ReadytoPass campaign and introduce these changes to make sure applicants only take tests when they’re fully prepared and ready to pass.”

Many instructors already display their certificates when they take their pupils for test. This allows DVSA to capture their pupil’s performance data which instructors can use to help understand if there are any patterns in the types of faults their pupils are making. By mandating this it will allow DVSA to capture more accurate information that could be used as consumer information in future.  

These measures would contribute to learner drivers being better prepared for test by encouraging Instructors to only bring their pupils when they are confident that they are ready to drive safely on their own. 

DVSA will also work with DVLA to explore allowing the eyesight test to be carried out by means other than reading the number plate attached to the vehicle. This will enable us to provide driving tests at more times, in different levels of light, and will give us the flexibility to test eyesight if there are few vehicles parked nearby. It will be necessary to ensure that any alternative is thoroughly tested and assessed to ensure it is sufficiently rigorous.

Other measures covered in the consultation:

  • In addition, Approved Driving Instructors (ADIs) must display their instructor certificate on every test, to help further improve DVSA’s ability to identify the instructors that need support and advice through ADI standards checks. This will also help to ensure greater fairness and consistency for all driving instructors. 54.1% of people agreed with this proposal, compared with 15.5% who disagreed.
  • Modernising the driving test process, with the introduction of digital pass certificates and asking learner drivers what they use their driving test certificates for. In total, 62.7% of respondents agreed with the proposal and 19.3% disagreed with the proposal for driving tests.
  • 70.1% of respondents agreed that consumers would benefit from knowing how well, on average, a driving instructor’s pupils did when they took their driving tests. DVSA will work closely with ADI associations and ADIs on providing better information to learner drivers about driving instructors and their performance, how we’ll be using performance data and what data will be published. 

Additional information:

  • Any change to the eyesight test would apply to all test categories where the check is carried out as part of the test, including motorcycle tests.  It would not therefore apply to vocational tests where the eyesight standards are checked as part of the medical assessment.
  • The introduction of digital pass certificates would apply to theory and practical tests across all test categories including vocational. 
  • 510,000 candidates have successfully booked a test during the 24-week booking window. The current average waiting time for a driving test is 16.1 weeks.
  • DVSA aims to reduce waiting times for car practical driving tests to 9 weeks or less by the end of the year.
  • There have already been a series of measures introduced to help increase the number of driving tests DVSA does, these include:
    • offering overtime and annual leave buy back to driving examiners 
    • asking all those qualified to conduct tests, but who do not do so as part of their current day job, to return to conducting tests 
    • inviting retired examiners to conduct tests 
    • conducting out of hours testing such as at weekends and on public holidays 
    • recruiting an additional 300 examiners.
  • DVSA is running the ‘Ready to Pass?’ campaign that is helping learner drivers and their family and friends better understand how long it takes to learn to drive with the aim of encouraging learners to only book and take a driving test only once they are properly prepared.   
  • From February 2022 – February 2023, 21,279 driving tests were wasted.

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