Driving instructors have roundly rejected the government’s proposal for a refundable deposit when passing driving tests.
According to a survey of Driving Instructors Association (DIA) members, three-quarters (76%) of ADIs rejected the idea that learners should pay a deposit that is refunded if they pass their test.
Instructor comments against the proposal included that “a few pounds cash back will not make a difference” and that “at the moment is seems that [the government] is proposing changes for the sake of change”.
Another ADI commented: “The minister has announced this as "radical" development. The only radical development in the testing regime would have been the introduction of a graduated drivers licence, but this has been rejected despite a large body of evidence from the UK and abroad that it would make a significant change to the crash statistics for new young drivers.”
When asked whether a deposit scheme would incentivise people to prepare better for their tests, 63% said it wouldn’t with many saying that students should be working hard to prepared for the test anyway and should only enter for their test when they are sufficiently prepared. The majority of respondents felt there were better ways of better preparing young drivers for the roads and the government should consider mandating some key elements of learning to drive with a professional instructor, or a minimum learning period, as other European countries do.
A proposal to fast-track tests through paying extra was also rejected with 84% saying no to the proposal with many saying that only those who can afford to pay would gain an advantage and that this could discriminate against the economically disadvantaged.
The DIA carried out the survey in response to a government consultation on its motoring services which includes the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA).
Asked whether the motoring services were fit for purpose, 61% of ADIs said no while only 17% said yes. When asked why not, may cited understaffing of test centres and the current waiting times for practical tests, amongst other service issues.
ADIs were also asked whether the outsourcing of driving tests to a body outside of the DVSA would improve delivery. Fifty-two percent rejected the idea while 23% said yes.
The survey also invited comments on how to improve the service and the vast majority of responses wanted more test centres and more examiners to ensure test slots were more readily available.
DIA chief executive Carly Brookfield commented: "The test deposit proposal, whilst intended to create a financial incentive to encourage better preparation pre-test, has not proved a popular idea amongst driver trainers as it is hard to see the government being able to offer a sufficiently attractive financial hook to pupils which will make them work harder to get their money back. Many in the industry feel that whilst this idea is radical, it's not the right focus if we really want to be radical about reducing young driver casualties.
“We hope the government listens to those training professionals who have responded to this survey as the views come from those who are at the very coalface of driver education who are equally desperate to see better prepared young drivers on the road."