September 2020 Update: DVSA Vocational Training Virtual Meeting

Last week (28th September 2020), National Register of LGV Instructors (NRI) held a virtual meeting with Driver Vehicle and Standards Agency (DVSA) to discuss current issues in vocational driver testing. The session started with an update from Mark Winn, DVSA’s Chief Driving Examiner on their Covid-19 response and the restart of LGV testing.

This led to a lively sharing of experiences and ideas based on questions from NRI registered instructors and examination centres, focussing on the measures in place as a result of Covid-19. Those attending asked that NRI and DVSA arrange another session as the restart programme continues. Key messages from the meeting were:

Capacity

  • DVSA are working to get back to a national, 3-week appointment availability – the pre-pandemic level of service – as soon as possible.
  • Capacity was boosted from 28th September when extra/overtime test slots became available and will increase again from 19th October 2020 when LGV examiners will resume carrying out 4 tests per day.

Local lockdowns

  • So far, DVSA have been able to continue operating during the new local lockdown rules, across England, Scotland and Wales.
  • Unlike March 2020, DVSA now have Covid-related standard operating procedures, Covid-secure sites, office social distancing, stockpiles of face coverings and sanitiser.

What should instructors and candidates do on test day?

  • Make sure that candidates follow the government’s guidelines on staying safe.
  • Face coverings are mandatory on a driving test unless an exemption is declared at the time of booking. Candidates should practice in one that fits suitably in advance of their test. If misting up of glasses becomes a road safety concern the candidate will be directed back to the test centre where the test will be terminated.
  • Instructors with valid medical exemptions are allowed to remove masks at Test Centres.
  • There is restricted access and movement around driving test centres. This means that waiting rooms are closed, but given the winter months are coming, DVSA are looking at possible options to resolve this.

Test Bookings

  • DVSA recognise the problems the current, significant wait time for theory tests are creating and are looking at measures to increase theory test availability.
  • The booking system is a national service, which means that training companies are entitled to book tests in all areas, provided ‘local lockdown’ restrictions prohibiting movement are not in place.
  • The number of tests on the booking system opening day is designed to share the overall number out fairly based on the booking history.