Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) suspended driving tests in England, Scotland and Wales ‘for up to 3 months’ from 21 March 2020.  Since then, DVSA has maintained dialogue with NRI and other industry organisations through weekly online meetings.

To inform this dialogue, NRI emailed a short anonymous survey to all 550 LGV instructors and assessors on the NRI register.  This survey sought their professional views on the priorities that should be set as DVSA restart vocational driving tests during June and ideas for measures that could increase examining capacity and maximise safety for examiners and candidates.

Within a few days, we had received over 100 completed surveys, indicating the urgency of restarting the LGV driver training industry. This can only happen once DVSA driving tests are available; driver training and driver testing are part of an integrated process.

The advice to DVSA from NRI register members is:

  • The industry needs at least a few days’ notice of tests restarting so that training centres can be re-opened, staff brought back from furlough and COVID-safe measures be put in place.
  • 73% want vocational tests (Cat C/C+E) to have priority over car and van tests
  • 60% want with Cat C (rigids) tests to be prioritised over Cat C+E (artics) tests
  • Key workers should remain the priority for available tests
  • 65% of the instructors responding to the survey had customers whose booked test was cancelled on 21st
  • Demand is high throughout the UK, NRI members in all areas report the need to restart testing as soon as possible
  • The COVID-safe measures for LGV driving tests that are being implemented by DVSA have the overwhelming support of the training industry – 94% of respondents say that they are appropriate – with many planning to adopt the same measures for driver training

Other measures to ensure a prompt and safe restart to testing

We asked for ideas as to other measures that could be taken by DVSA to make testing as safe as possible – for examiners and candidates – while making as many tests as possible available.  More than half of respondents suggested at least one idea – another indication of the shared determination to get LGV training and testing back on the road.  Those ideas are:

Safety Measures

  • Training centres will commit to ensuring a safe environment to DVSA standards
  • Trainers to provide proof vehicle has been sanitized
  • All training vehicles should carry a supply of gloves, face masks and sanitiser for the learner, instructor and examiner to use. If not the examiner should have the right to terminating the test if they don’t feel safe
  • Use a clear plastic screen to split the cab on HGV but still maintain access to the parking brake for emergencies

Checking candidates

  • Beneficial for all parties before entering test to have proof that (COVID 19) testing has taken place and the subsequent results from that test as part of the checks pre-driving test
  • Temperature checks prior to ALL training and testing as questioners and self-declaration are not reliable

Delegating Examining

  • If the DVSA cannot provide the examiners, then they will need to let us have our own Delegated Driving Examiners to meet the requirement
  • Allow approved trainers to conduct Mod 3 test in a similar way to the Mod 4
  • Allow NRI instructors to act as examiners to meet demand for tests

Modified Testing process

  • Cancelling the DVSA test if the reverse or coupling or uncoupling is failed
  • Utilising outside space for receiving candidates, usual care taken regards hygiene as all other aspects of delivery

Use of Customer Sites

  • Conduct more tests at customers own sites. These sites allow us to 100% control activities, examiner, staff and customer interaction, Cleaning and keeping the test environment safe. Compared to a shared office or public test sites where it’ almost impossible to avoid interaction in waiting rooms and WC etc.
  • Look at training companies with the facility to deliver test from their own site, this would stop mixing in one place with cars and other tests

Greater Availability of Tests

  • Allocate tests to trainer bookers that would ordinarily have been in place. Provide Saturday tests to help clear backlog and late day tests whilst summer daylight is available
  • Increase the numbers of tests per day to help reduce any backlog
  • More tests in general, including Saturdays
  • 5 tests a day instead of 4 per examiner
  • Test slots to open in stages so that we can start to train in an ordered manner

Priorities for restarting driving tests

  • Prioritise cancelled tests over new bookings
  • Prioritise LGV tests to help get the economy going.
  • Motorcycle tests shouldn’t be affected as no social distancing issues

Giving notice of the restart

  • Testing needs to restart ASAP with 7days notice needed for training before taking tests
  • Give us advanced notice (earlier than the ‘official’ notification on the website) of when examiners will be working. Once there is an official announcement and we will be swamped with customer calls and our office staff are on furlough at the moment, so we notice so that we can un-furlough them

Over the coming months, many LGV training providers and in-house training teams will start to resume their operations and NRI and DVSA will be on hand to provide support for this. However, due to the current Covid circumstances, you are advised to continue to check the GOV.UK website before advising your trainee drivers as to whether and when they may be able to be tested.

NRI are also delighted to announce that we are now also back up and running with examinations resuming ready to help your journey towards LGV Instructor, LGV Assessor or Driver CPC qualifications. Get in touch with us today to find out more.