Welsh Social Distancing Measures

From 26 December, the Welsh Government introduced 2m social distancing measures in public spaces to stop the spread of COVID-19

Should regulations and guidance change, we will ensure to update you on any impact to services provided by Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA)

Driving Tests Lessons

All practical driving and riding tests and lessons with a professional instructor will continue. Learner drivers can continue practising driving but should be mindful of limiting their social contact with people outside of their household. 

Theory Tests

Theory tests in Wales can continue to take place with 1m plus distancing accompanied by robust Covid-safe measures to protect customers and theory test centre colleagues.

Some theory tests at Bala, Carmarthen, Cardigan and Dolgellau mobile theory test centres will need to be cancelled as DVSA is unable to test customers safely within the mobile test vehicle due to ventilation constraints.

If your or your pupil’s test booking is affected, we will send you an email to explain the impact on your test and what you need to do to rearrange the test.

Candidates will need to maintain a 2m distance within the test centre before taking their test. 

Other safety measures that will be in place include:

  • Protective transparent screens at reception desks
  • Varriers between each of the work station which means all candidates are social distanced by 1m plus during their test
  • Providing hand sanitiser to use on arrival, during the tests and when candidates leave the test centre
  • Cleaning workstations (including computers and headphones) before every test
  • Colleagues will wear a face covering (unless there’s a medical reason that it’s not recommended for them) and gloves
  • Candidates will have to wear a face covering too, unless they have notified us in advance that they cannot
  • Candidates must come into the test centre alone to help with social distancing

Driving Test Centre Waiting Rooms

The new social distancing measures mean we are currently limiting the number of people who can use the driving test waiting rooms in Wales. The maximum number of people who can use the waiting room will be displayed inside and outside of the test centre waiting room.

People using these rooms will need to keep a 2m distance from others and use the hand sanitiser as provided.

Other waiting room rules.

Examiners will meet candidates at their vehicle before their test.

Some waiting rooms will need to close where social distancing is not possible or examiners need to use these areas to allow them to socially distance whilst at work.

This includes:

  • Brecon
  • Carmarthen (when the driving test centre manager is testing)
  • Monmouth

Candidates, Instructors and accompanying drivers will still be able to access the toilet at these sites on request.

If you are accompanying your pupils to test at any of these sites you can wait on-site if you need to in the car park, as long as it is in a safe location.  

Changes to trailer testing and licencing (B+E)

The UK Government has confirmed that the regulations surrounding trailer testing and licensing have changed. The new change allows anyone who has passed their car driving test to be automatically awarded category BE (B+E) entitlement, allowing them to pull tow trailers up to 3500kg MAM behind a car or light van.

The DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licencing Agency) will update driving licence records for all those the change applies to – category ‘BE’ will also be added to photocard driving licenses when renewed to show that you are allowed to tow trailers.

Changes had previously been expected to be confirmed in November after DVSA (Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency) confirmed in September its intention to change the law in an effort to free up testing capacity to tackle the LGV/HGV driver shortage.

The BE change follows the third part of the Government’s reform to vocational driver testing in order to free up testing capacity and get more LGV/HGV drivers into the logistics industry. On 15th November, the law changed to allow a car licence holder to progress straight to category C+E without first passing category C, and also to allow accredited individuals in the training sector to examine the reversing exercise of category C and C+E tests. 

While this change means a driver is now legally entitled to drive combinations that require the BE entitlement without further training, operators and employers should be aware of their obligations under operator licensing and also health and safety legislation to ensure their drivers or employees are properly trained to conduct safely the duties expected in their job.

Members may also want to check with their insurance provider as to whether further measures are required for drivers under the BE entitlement. 

For further information or to find out how the changes affect you, click here.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION: COVID-19 UPDATE

In light of the Prime Ministers update on Wednesday 8th December around further work from home measures being introduced from Monday 13th December, we are working closely with DVSA to agree on the impact these will have on DVSA services. 

Following the new guidelines, the National Register of LGV Instructors (NRI) practical examinations (for LGV Instructor and LGV Assessor) will continue during this time. 

Driver CPC Instructor examinations will also remain, however they are able to be conducted remotely. If the remote option is chosen, we recommend training with an exam centre before presenting for the exam. 

Examination Centres: Centres wishing to offer these theory and remote examinations should contact NRI.

Registered Instructors/Assessors: Instructors and Assessors needing to take these theory and remote examinations should contact their NRI Exam Centre or training provider in the first instance.

For ALL in-cab and classroom training and examinations conducted by NRI, it is strongly encouraged for both examiners and candidates to wear a face covering. Classrooms and vehicles should also be cleaned regularly. DVSA is also encouraging rapid lateral flow tests in the 48 hours before attending training and examinations in person.

If you have any concerns or questions please do get in touch with us.

“Why NRI”, with J Coates (HGV Services) Ltd

National Register of LGV Instructors (NRI) recently had a good chat with Chris Ashford, Operations Director from J Coates (HGV Services) Ltd, in Leicester to see why they continue to renew their NRI membership.

J Coates (HGV Services) Ltd has been an approved NRI centre since 2017.

Why do you continue to renew each year? “Recognition and more and more contracts required some form of accreditation.”

What do you get out of NRI accreditation? “Support in continuing to promote safer driving and standards of commercial vehicle drivers alongside DVSA, RHA & Logistic UK.”

What do your Instructors think of NRI membership? “Mainly that it’s another qualification that they can add onto their CV’s.”

What do your candidates/delegates think of your NRI membership? “A lot of good responses knowing that their Instructor has been through a training programme to get qualified to deliver LGV/PCV training both on the road and in the classroom.”

What is your relationship like with NRI? “Great rapport with all the staff past and present – keep the good work up!”

DVSA Update: Vocational driving test availability

Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) has published vocational driving test availability!

There is current availability on 8th October in:

– Aberdeen
– Perth
– Carlisle
– Dumfries
– Darlington
– Gosforth
– Sheffield
– Grimsby
– Newport
– Culham
– Norwich
– Peterborough
– Ipswich
– Camborne
– Bristol
– Guildford

There is also availability between 11th – 15th October in:

– Perth
– Beverley
– Sheffield
– Bredbury
– Caernarfon
– Llantrisant
– Chelmsford
– Plymouth
– Southampton

Tests can be booked through DVSA’s test booking website. The DVSA would like to encourage all vocational communications to go through their new mailbox, where driving schools or candidates can indicate where demand is. The vocational test availability data from DVSA (as of 1pm today) can be viewed here.

DVSA Update: Ministry of Defence supporting lorry driving tests

Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) recently announced that the Ministry of Defence (MoD) will be deploying their Defence Driving Examiners (DDEs) to work alongside DVSA examiners to deliver additional HGV driving tests.

Increase in tests

The MoD will initially be providing a number of DDEs to help create thousands of additional HGV tests between now and Christmas.

MoD examiners will be carrying out 5 tests a day over a 5-day working week.

They are fully trained to carry out HGV tests and will start testing from 11 October. This will be kept under review.

DVSA will carry out training courses with these examiners to make them familiar with DVSA paperwork and processes along with the local test routes

When these additional tests can be booked

You and your pupils will be able to book these additional tests from Friday 1st October or early next week through DVSA’s booking services.

These examiners will be located at DVSA and customer sites with the highest demand for HGV tests.

They will be using a DL25 paper marking form and wearing their military uniforms when carrying out DVSA HGV driving tests.

Your pupils will be asked to sign the residency and vehicle insurance declarations on this form rather than the tablets used by DVSA’s examiners.

In addition to MoD examiners, DVSA is also recruiting an additional 40 vocational examiners to help ease the HGV driver shortage.

DVSA Update: new government plans to tackle the lorry driving shortage

The government has announced further plans to help reduce the lorry driver shortage. These plans follow the recently announced vocational test changes which will create an extra 50,000 lorry tests every year. DVSA has already delivered 50% more tests than were available before the pandemic.

Ministry of Defence Driving Examiners

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has announced the immediate deployment of their Defence Driving Examiners (DDEs) to work alongside DVSA examiners. MoD examiners are fully trained to conduct lorry tests and will work alongside DVSA examiners providing thousands of extra tests over the next 12 weeks.

Tests will be added to the booking system and candidates and trainers will be able to book these additional tests. These examiners will be in addition to the 40 extra vocational examiners that DVSA is currently recruiting following a recent recruitment campaign.

Delegated Driving Examiner Changes

The government is bringing in legislation to allow delegated driving examiners at the 3 emergency services and the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to conduct driving tests for one another. The change will help increase the number of lorry tests that we can carry out and will give the emergency services greater flexibility.

It will also allow NHS Ambulance Services and Foundation Trusts to carry out ambulance driving tests for their own employees.

The change was consulted on over the summer. We will provide further updates on when this legislation comes into force.

Employment Opportunities For Former Lorry Drivers

Department for Transport (DfT), along with leading logistics organisations have worked with the DVLA to send nearly 1 million letters to thank HGV drivers for their vital role in supporting our economy, and to encourage those who have left the industry to return. 

The letter, which will arrive on doormats over the coming days, sets out the steps the road haulage sector is taking to improve the industry, including increased wages, flexible working and fixed hours. You can read the full letter on GOV.UK.

Further guidance on returning to lorry driving is available on GOV.UK

HGV Training Courses

The Department for Education is investing up to £10m to create new Skills Bootcamps to train up to 3,000 more people to become HGV drivers.

The free, short, intensive courses will train drivers to be road-ready and gain a Cat C or Cat C&E license, helping to tackle the current HGV driver shortage. An additional 1,000 people are expected to be trained through courses accessed locally and funded by the government’s adult education budget.

Fuel tanker drivers need additional safety qualifications, which the Government will work with industry to ensure drivers can access as quickly as possible.

To help make sure new drivers can be road-ready as quickly as possible, the Department for Transport (DfT) has also agreed to work with Driver and Vehicles Standards Agency (DVSA) to ensure that tests will be available for participants who have completed training courses as soon as possible.

An additional 1,000 people are expected to be trained through courses accessed locally and funded by the government’s adult education budget.

There are currently 5 Level 2 certificates in driving goods vehicles available to take.

Previously, adults who took these qualifications had to pay for their own licences.

This change will be backdated and applied to anyone who started one of these qualifications on or after 1 August 2021.

Anyone who is interested in becoming a lorry driver should visit the National Careers Service website or speak to a local careers adviser at nationalcareers.service.gov.uk/contact-us to find out more.

Employers in the industry can also take advantage of an additional £3,000 payment until 30 September for every new apprentice hired. 

Seasonal Workers Scheme

5,000 HGV fuel tanker and food lorry drivers will be added to the existing visa scheme and will be able to come to the UK for three months in the run-up to Christmas, providing short-term relief for the haulage industry.

Recruitment for additional short-term HGV drivers will begin in October and these visas will be valid until 24 December 2021. UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) are preparing to process the required visa applications, once made, in a timely manner.

However, the Government want to see employers make long term investments in the UK domestic workforce instead of relying on labour to build a high-wage, high-skill economy.

Visas will not be the long term solution, and reform within the industry is vital. That’s why the Government continues to support the industry in solving this issue through improved testing and hiring, with better pay, working conditions and diversity.

DVSA Update: lorry, bus and coach trainers following vocational test consultation outcome

Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) announced an update on 10th September informing the industry about the changes the Government plans to introduce to help tackle the LGV driver shortage.

Booking car and trailer tests ceased on 16th September via DVSA’s online service.

This change and the other planned changes will come into force as soon as possible and follow a public consultation held over the summer.  To explain more about what these changes mean to you and your candidates, DVSA has published guidance on changes to lorry and bus driving tests from autumn 2021 on GOV.UK.

Extra bus and lorry tests available

As a result of stopping car and trailer tests, DVSA has added an additional 2,759 bus and lorry tests between Monday 20th September and 21st November in various locations across Great Britain.

This includes:

  • 728 appointments in the Midlands
  • 1,055 appointments in North of England
  • 590 appointments in Scotland
  • 1,052 appointments in London and South
  • 188 appointments in Wales

DVSA is sharing this information to help give an up-to-date picture of test availability in your area. You can use the trainer booker service to book these appointments.

There were 316 unsold vocational test appointments last week. We all have a crucial role to play in helping to tackle the worldwide LGV driver shortages. 

The booking service is constantly changing, so all the figures above will change regularly.

Requesting extra appointments in your area

If you need extra test appointments and there are not currently any available in your area you can contact DVSA directly by telling them how many test appointments you need and the area you need them in and they will see if have the available resource to support you. You can do this through the online booking service by:

  • logging in to the booking service
  • clicking on the ‘requests to the DVSA’ tab on the top menu
  • choosing ‘request additional trainer booking slots from the drop down menu
  • filling in the details for the test you need, and press send

DVSA recommend you take a screen print of the request confirmation screen and save this for future reference. The date and time you sent the request will be the request reference e.g.1509211059 – 150921 is the date the request was made and 1059 is the time the request was submitted.

Extra tests – removal of staging

DVSA will also be increasing the number of lorry, bus and coach tests once the law has changed to allow:

  • learner lorry drivers to take an articulated lorry test without the need to pass a rigid lorry test first
  • learner bus and coach drivers to take a bus and coach test with a trailer, rather than having to pass a test without a trailer first

The Government laid the legislation in Parliament for the change to the car and trailer testing on 16th September and they are aiming to introduce the change in November. 

The legislation for the change to staging is due to be laid in October and the earliest this change can be brought in would be 4 weeks afterwards however, this will be dependent on Parliamentary processes so is likely to take longer.

We will work closely with DVSA to keep you updated on the progress of both changes and confirm dates for the changes to be brought in when we can.

Off-road manoeuvres

To clarify, the change to allow a DVSA-approved trainer to assess the off-road manoeuvre in the future applies to lorry, bus and coach driving tests.

We will work closely with the industry on these plans and keep you updated. 

DVSA Update: Changes to the Highway Code

As a trainer or instructor, whether you’re employed within an in-house organisation, at a training centre, or self-employed, it’s important to stay up to date with the Highway Code. 

From today (14th September 2021), there are changes to the rules on using motorways, so it’s as important as ever that you and your pupils “check the Code” – and continue to do so on a regular basis. 

The changes made as of today refer to the guidance on smart motorways. A total of 33 existing rules will be amended and two new rules introduced, with a number of amendments made to the additional information annexes. 

 These include:  

  • clearer advice on where to stop in an emergency 
  • the importance of not driving in a lane closed by a Red X 
  • the use of variable speed limits to manage congestion 
  • updated guidance on key factors that contribute to safety-related incidents, including unroadworthy vehicles, tailgating and driving in roadworks 

Stay up to date with the Highway Code, and other future changes here.

The Highway Code allows you to: 

  • search for key words and phrases within The Highway Code 
  • quickly move between related rules 
  • follow links to the original laws that the rules are based on 
  • print sections more easily 

Download the official Highway Code app via the App Store or Google Play.

Over the coming weeks, DVSA anticipates some further changes to the Highway Code, which we will be sure to share with you as and when they are shared with us.

NRI responds to the DVSA consultation on proposed changes to vocational testing

To help address the current LGV driver shortage, Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) announced a package of measures back in July 2021, including a consultation on proposed changes to the current requirements to obtain a vocational driving licence.

NRI worked with its network of registered instructors, assessors, and exam centres in order to develop a representative response to the consultation.

DOWNLOAD THE FULL NRI RESPONSE HERE

We would like to thank our network who took the time to provide their honest and valuable opinions.