The DVSA has recently consulted on a number of changes they wanted to make to the way driving tests are booked and the information they make available about driving instructors. The consultation has recently ended and the DVSA have confirmed that they intend to put the following proposals into action.

  • Extending the period of time that unsuccessful candidates have to wait before booking another test from 10 days to 28 days.
  • Extending the notice period that candidates intending to cancel their driving test have to give the DVSA if they want to get their test fee back.
  • Changing the law to require Approved and Potential Driving Instructors to display their registration certificate in the windscreen of their car when presenting a learner for test.
  • Publish statistics on driving instructor performance.
  • Change the law to allow the DVSA to use other methods of checking a candidates eyesight so that tests can be carried out in any level of light.
  • Issue digital pass certificates to theory and practical test candidates instead of paper versions.

Extending the wait for a re-test to 28 days rather than 10.

Currently a learner driver who is unsuccessful at their practical driving test has to wait 10 days before they can make another attempt. The DVSA have proposed to extend this to 28 days, saying that it would reduce the number of people who attempt their driving test when they are not ready. They also say it will allow more time for people to take additional training before attempting the test again.

They say that this measure will allow candidates to take extra training, creating better prepared drivers with greater levels of knowledge and skill which will have a positive impact on road safety. They also claim that it will have a positive impact on car driving test waiting times.

Apparently 1/3 of learner driver respondents to the consultation agreed that it will encourage them to only book their test when they are ready.

What’s going to happen now?

The government can introduce this measure by using a Statutory Instrument, which will be published along with an explanatory memorandum which tells MPs why the changes are necessary. The timescale for this hasn’t been confirmed.

Nick’s Opinion.

10 days, 28 days, 100 days, it doesn’t matter! Given the current availability of driving tests in the Sheffield area, unless you want to pay a cancellation app to move a test forward, you are going to be waiting months for a retest anyway.

The changes don’t change the fact that you book after 28 days, only that you can’t present for test until 28 working days after your unsuccessful attempts. So candidates who are unsuccessful will still hop on as soon as possible afterwards and grab the first available test they can take. It may have a small impact on waiting times for a few days, but the massive backlog of people waiting for a first time test will swallow up any additional short notice availability almost instantly.

Data on responses.

Of the 20,940 respondents to the survey, 13.8% strongly agreed with and 16.6% agreed with the question:

To what extent do you agree or disagree that the standard period before which an unsuccessful candidate can make a further application for a test should be extended from 10 to 28 working days?

In contrast, 6.5% had no opinion either way, 19.1% disagreed and 44.0 strongly disagreed. More people strongly disagreed with the statement than strongly agreed, agreed and neither agreed nor disagreed. Yet the DVSA and ministers have still opted to force through these changes.

Only 1 in 3 respondents said it would encourage them to book a test only when they are ready in the current circumstances.

Reducing the number of driving test appointments wasted.

Currently a candidate can cancel or reschedule their driving test booking upto 3 clear working days in advance of test. So a test on the Thursday can be cancelled on the Monday preceding it and the candidate will get their test booking fee back. The proposal is to change this window to 10 clear working days. The idea behind this is that it will give a chance for more test ready candidates to catch a short notice cancellation.

Apparently it is difficult for the DVSA to make a test cancelled at 3 days notice available to other candidates, which means that the test slot goes wasted.

Whats going to happen now?

As with the extension to 28 days after a failed driving test, the government can change this rule by use of a Statutory Instrument and Explanatory Memorandum. The government have not confirmed a timetable for this to happen.

Nick’s Opinion.

What utter garbage. Increasing the cancellation window to 10 clear days will cause more tests to go wasted. While I’m very lucky with the learner drivers I have working with me. I know from my time with Pass N Go Driving School, where I taught who I was told to not the learners who would necessarily choose to work with me; there are a greater number of candidates who are financially motivated than there are those who will always do the right thing.

So if you increase the time in which a candidate cannot get their test fee back, you will have fewer short notice cancelations than you do now.

I’m also aware from my own cohort of learners, that often learners will ramp up lessons in the run up to test and that often, the final breakthrough is often made inside the final two weeks of learning prior to test. It’s the nature of the beast here where we have to book tests months in advance and hope that we can all get the job done on time.

I find it incredibly hard to tell a customer that they will not be ready for test and have to move it. This change is going to make it a much more common occurrence and is going to result in learner who would be test ready 4 days before test, cancelling tests because they are still making mistakes 13 days before test.

Note that the window is working days, not days so weekends don’t count.

Data on the responses.

48.5% of 20,861 respondents agreed or strongly agreed to the proposal, with 42.8% either opposed or strongly opposed. 8.8% had no clear view either way. The question asked was:

To what extent do you agree or disagree that we should change the short notice cancellation period for car driving tests from 3 working days to 10 working days?

Collect better data about how well driving instructors prepare learner drivers.

The proposal here is that driving instructors, be they approved or potential, display their registration certificate in the windscreen of their car when presenting for test with a pupil. They say it will encourage instructors to only bring pupils to test if they are confident they will pass while allowing the DVSA to identify instructors requiring more support and training.

They also say it will enable them to treat all driving instructors consistently.

Only by displaying a certificate can the examiner correctly allocate the test to a specific instructor. They enter our PRN into their iPads when they get into the car which then allows them to track data on the faults that each instructor’s pupils commit on tests.

Whats going to happen now?

This change requires an Act of Parliament to introduce. The law requires an instructor to show their registration certificate when delivering paid tuition but a driving test isn’t tuition, its assessment and often the instructor isn’t even in the vehicle. That means that the law doesn’t require us to display our badges for driving tests.

Only Parliament can change this.

While the DVSA waits for the government to bring forward new legislation, they will continue to encourage us as instructors to display our badges while on test.

Nick’s Opinion.

Given some of their other proposals this is a necessary step to make their plans come true. But it’s not going to work out as they planned.

If they bring in this change its going to mean a few things will happen:

  • Bad instructors will refuse to take learners to test in their driving school car meaning you’ll have to go in your own or hire a car for test.
  • Bad instructors will keep pupils from taking their test until they are certain that the candidate will pass which will increase the waiting times for instructors.
  • Instructors will leave the industry increasing the waiting time for instructors.

I have only once removed my badge prior to a test, and that was because the learner going to test was another instructors customer, not mine. The change won’t improve statistics on good instructors and bad instructors will just find loop holes to get around it.

The other big problem is that the data currently collected is massively inaccurate. I’ve heard of instructors who have got their data with over 20 tests missing in a year. Other records have the right test but the wrong result. Until the DVSA can start getting basic data collection right it’s not going to help them target instructors for help or assessment.

Additionally, there is no requirement for an instructor to actually engage with training. It’s all voluntary. Truckers and Bus drivers have to engage with training to stay in work, why haven’t they extended that to the people charged with teaching the new generation of road users?

Data on the responses.

20,583 respondents answered the question in the survey. Of those 54.2% were in favour while 15.55 were against. 30.4% neither agreed nor disagreed. The question asked was:

To what extent do you agree or disagree that ADIs should be required to display their certificate during the driving test?

The DVSA have also conducted separate work to find out if instructors have removed their badge from their car for a test. In January to February 2022 13.4% of instructors said they had. In September to October the same year, which is after the new standards check triggers which are based on pass rates and driving test faults came into force, that number decreased to 12.9%.

Give learners better information on driving instructors.

The proposal is for the DVSA to publish pass rate data on instructors on their website. They say learner drivers will find it useful in choosing a driving instructor. In particular they say that the information will benefit learners in assessing our performance in preparing people to be safe drivers.

Ministers would like to share this information with learners and their families.

What is going to happen now?

As with the requirement to show an ADI certificate at test, this change requires primary legislation, (Act of Parliament). In the interim the DVSA will put the steps in place to make this happen and make it available to instructors on a voluntary basis.

Nick’s Opinion.

We are talking here about a system which doesn’t even recognise that there are instructors teaching in manual or automatic vehicles. I am listed on the DVSA website, I have voluntarily agreed to the ADI Code of Practice, I have volunteered to display my last standards check grade. I’ve done all the best practice things that the DVSA has said I should do.

So far I’ve not had a single customer contact me through the DVSA website who wanted a service I can offer. The entire website needs a complete overhaul and the bottom of the list should be adding the DVSA’s unreliable data to the public record.

We have repeatedly been told that it’s the learner’s test and we are no part of it. Even when we ride along, we aren’t allowed to speak, are almost discouraged from moving and we can be kicked out of our own car if the learner decides at debrief they don’t want us to be present.

Why should I be forced to allow the DVSA to offer information on data which doesn’t relate to me in a bid to make my prospective customers better informed about me? If customers want information on me, they can ask, they can look me up on TrustPilot, heck if you are that interested in my performance (which is a good thing by the way) I’ll put you in touch with some of my customers past and present!

It is my experience that the only things that most learner drivers want to know is how much and how soon they can start.

Finally, ignoring the fact that we are told repeatedly that we are not a party to the test, if the DVSA hold data on us as individuals, they require our individual consent to share it publicly. This proposal, to mandate that we disclose data about us, is in direct opposition to the General Data Protection Regulation and not one currently licensed instructor has agreed to it. The only way they can make this work is to force us all to agree to a breach of privacy in order to continue working in our chosen profession.

Data on the responses.

20,917 respondents answered the question:

To what extent do you agree or disagree that consumers would benefit from knowing how well, on average, a driving instructor’s pupils did when they took their driving tests?

Overall 70.1% of respondents agreed to the proposal but it’s very important to note that only 20.4% of driving instructors and driving schools agreed. So only 20.4% of the respondents who are in a position to judge now how reliable the data will be agreed.

One of the comments made in the survey is key to displaying a fatal flaw in the system. One unattributed respondent told the survey:

I think it’s important to display information about the number of students so you can avoid someone selecting an inexperienced instructor who had been lucky with passes.

To whomever penned this little comment; how is a new instructor supposed to get experience if they can’t get customers? Also, surely someone who has just been trained and passed all the tests is actually in a better position to instruct you than an instructor who has been working in the industry since before power steering!

Update on when and how the eyesight check is carried out.

The DVSA is trying to change the way the eyesight check is carried out. At the moment the examiner will get the candidate to read or write down a vehicle registration number at a distance of at least 20.5 meters. If unsuccessful the candidate will be asked to read, or write down a different registration number at a measured distance of 20.5 meters.

Ministers are looking to introduce proposals to make this possible. One of the ways they are looking at is using the iPads to display something that needs to be read out or written from inside the test centre.

What is going to happen now?

The DVSA is working with the DVLA to agree a new standard test which makes it possible to introduce eyesight testing in all light levels.

Nick’s Opinion.

Changes here can only be a good thing. If the DVSA can conduct tests when the light outside is failing, it will result in fewer tests being cancelled due to weather conditions and more people passing. It’s going to help reduce the waiting list.

Data on the responses.

Overall 41.9% of respondents agreed while 31.8% of the 20,913 disagreed. The only true outlier in this comes from motorcycle trainers and training schools where 67.4% agreed to the proposal. 26.3% of people had no opinion either way.

Replacing paper pass certificates with digital pass certificates.

The DVSA want to begin issuing electronic pass certificates for both practical and theory driving tests. Currently the theory test result is given on a printed letter which is stamped by the test centre before being handed over. The practical test certificate is a ‘proper’ certificate filled out by the examiner at the end of a successful test.

This apparently will support the DVLA’s efforts to move to a fully digital driving licence and save over 2 million sheets of paper a year.

What will happen now?

The government will need an Act of Parliament to change the way test passes are certificated. This is probably down to the fact a practical test certificate acts in place of a full licence until the new licence arrives. Therefore it’s a legal document and can’t just be replaced by an email.

Nick’s Opinion.

Aside from the impact it will have on pass photos I’m not bothered by this at all. Especially if the cost savings are passed on to candidates who are facing a price rise for tests soon where service standards continue to fall.

Data on the responses.

20,911 people responded to this question, 62.7% of those were supportive. Again, the largest group here was motorcycle training professionals, probably due to the number of tests cancelled because the candidate can’t find their theory test or Mod1 certificate!


Nick Smith is an Approved Driving Instructor working in south Sheffield. Along with automatic driving lessons, Nick is a driving test nerves specialist and offers theory support to learners. A former truck driver, Nick also presents Driver CPC periodic training courses to professional drivers.

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