posted 3 years ago

Driving Test: New Rules, Centre Closures And Privatisation

Government might change requirements of driving test, close centres then use private sector to compensate for lack of capacity.

Driving Test To Include Sat-Nav

The Government might soon change the requirements of the practical driving test, strive to shorten waiting times, and close test centres then rely on the private sector to compensate for any lack of capacity. In 2015, 1,000 learners will sit a trial version of the practical test that requires them to use sat-nav. Instructor Drew Nicol said: "The tester will be looking to see, for example, if the driver is looking to much at the sat-nav”. A revised test might also replace the reverse around a corner/turn in the road elements with more common tasks such as reversing out a parking bay.

Driving Test Delays Caused By Premature Bookings

Further proposals come courtesy of the draft version of a consultation document. It claims that there is “anecdotal evidence” that poorly prepared motorists book the test after only a few lessons because they expect a long wait before being assessed.  During 2014, the delay hit 8 weeks partly due to a shortage of examiners. The government target is 6 weeks. This theory could explain the low pass rate of about 50%. Details are sketchy, but part of the solution could be to make more evening and weekend tests available to minimise the temptation to book prematurely. 

Driving Test Centres Could Close

The Department for Transport also hopes to “explore” options for reducing the Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency test centre estate. Closures, in other words. The land might then be used for housing and the private sector could compensate for any shortage in capacity. According to the Independent the document says: “We will also consider how we might meet continued strong customer demand for the practical driving test (by) exploring partnerships with other organisations. This might include operating from a range of different sites, or delivering some elements of the test through partners.”

Age Motorists Renew Driving Licence Could Rise

The consultation document – that is likely to be published in a final form in October 2015 – looks set to touch on other issues too. The age motorists renew their licence could rise from 70 to 75, for example. This initiative could cut pressure on admin services and minimise expenditure. Furthermore, the government seems keen to maximise revenue from non-essential services such as personalised registrations. The implications that surround the forthcoming launch of self-driving vehicles might also be considered.

The Labour Party's Shadow Roads Minister, Richard Burden, concluded: “A number of these changes, if done right, have some merit to them. But the track record of the Conservatives has been that every time they attempt a reorganisation, there has been chaos.”