Consultation Report finally published and signals support for providing more test slots, delivering better test services, further development of the driving test, and commits to exploring more effective ways of preparing new drivers for the realities of independent driving – including the possibility of introducing learner logbooks.
The Motoring Services Consultation, which commenced in November last year, has concluded in a response published by DfT today. The report entitled 'Safe, Secure, Sustainable, the Motoring Services Agencies' details a number of initiatives and commitments the government aims to deliver in order to improve motoring services in the UK. Of particular interest to the driver training industry will be the following areas:
Learning to drive:
Encourage a culture of taking the practical driving test when the candidate is judged ready, rather than simply as soon as
Reform the driving test (and, thereby, pre-test learning) to encourage more real life driving experience and ensure that it takes account of local variations and increasing vehicle automation
Explore the development of a voluntary electronic logbook, which will enable learner drivers and their instructors to record progress, and give them confidence in deciding when to go forward for the practical test
Support a broader range of driving experiences for learners, such as driving at night and on motorways, ahead of candidates obtaining their driving licence
Change the law to allow learner drivers accompanied by an ADI to drive on the motorway network in a dual controlled car
Undertake further work to assess how financial incentives might contribute to persuading learners to practise more
DVSA will run a voluntary scheme to publish pass rates by ADI to allow learners to base their choice of instructor on more objective grounds if they wish
DVSA will improve its relationship with ADIs, both directly and through their professional bodies
DVSA will examine the possibility of developing an 'earned recognition' approach to checking ADIs' adherence to standards
Provision of practical tests:
Look to expand the range of test slots available outside daytime weekday slots, on a permanent basis, across a wider range of centres than at present
Review the driving test centre network, to ensure that it provides a high level of customer service and ensure that each centre continues to be appropriately sited
Explore whether other models of service delivery might offer a better service to road users, either as an alternative to the current arrangements or to complement them, including involving the private sector in delivery
Work to improve lead times, and will look to guarantee a maximum lead time, bearing in mind the sparse population of some parts of the UK
DVSA has an ongoing recruitment strategy to address Examiner shortages
Commit to maintaining a test cancellation rate (other than for weather related reasons) of no more than two per cent
DIA CEO Carly Brookfield commented:
‘DIA welcomes the publication of the Motoring Services Strategy consultation report. We have been heavily involved in the consultation process, meeting with Lord Ahmad and his team on several occasions over the last few months, scoping possible solutions with them and even co-hosting a webinar with DfT so our members could ask questions about the consultation and feed in their views directly.
We can see that, in the key areas of the consultation report which directly impact our industry, and driver education in general, that DfT have listened to a lot of the feedback and are signalling an intent to work with the industry further to find workable solutions and strategies to better develop driving standards in the UK.
A commitment to widening access to driving tests, by looking at where we can offer more evening and weekend slots, will be particularly welcomed by the driver training community and pupils alike - particularly at a time where test waiting times in some areas of the UK exceed 4 months and demand for tests has increased exponentially with a forecast of 1.8 million tests being carried out this year.
Given the current issues in delivering the practical test it is also encouraging to see that the consultation response also focuses on where we can improve testing services - possibly even by outsourcing the delivery of some tests to alternative providers so customers receive a better level of service and can access these services as and when they need them. And certainly, given the success of the Practical Test Trial to date, we would support the further development of the L test to ensure it is a more effective assessment of a candidate’s ability to drive safely, independently.
We are particularly excited by the commitment to exploring ideas, such as those put forward by DIA, to introduce an electronic logbook system and competency framework which supports pupils and ADIs in the learning process, allowing them to progress together through a series of competencies to better prepare them for real life driving and we will continue to be involved closely in the scoping of this strategy. One key competency area that would be included in this competency framework is motorway driving and we are glad to see that the government’s commitment to amending regulation to allow learners on motorways, with a ADI, is reiterated in this report.
Committing to properly exploring such pragmatic strategies is where we can see the government has taken on board feedback from those at the chalkface of driver training in this consultation process and we’ll continue to facilitate driver and rider trainers working with the department further to bring these plans to fruition, as well as explore other new ideas and approaches to improving driver education and training in the UK. Certainly other areas of the report, particularly which focus on ADI professionalism, will be a subject of debate in the industry and we’ll continue to engage with ADIs and the government on this topic to ensure all voices are heard and all views considered in developing these proposals.’
Read the full report at www.gov.uk