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Driving instructors can’t pass learners unable to book test in lockdown

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The government confirms it will not lay legislation to allow driving instructors to pass learner drivers who are unable to book a practical test in lockdown.

Nearly 50,000 people signed a petition to allow driving instructors to give pupils the green light to hit the road as they have been unable to book a test amid the national lockdown restrictions.

The petition read: “It is unfair on learners who have been unable to book a test due to the pandemic to have to wait a significantly long time to have access to booking one”.

It comes as all routine practical driving lessons and tests have been suspended until restrictions are lifted.

As the petition gained more than 10,000 signatures, it triggers a response from the government and the Department for Transport confirmed there is no provision within legislation that allows an approved driving instructor (ADI) to conduct a driving test for a learner driver.

“The government has no plans to lay legislation to amend this”.

It states: “The Road Traffic Act 1988 only allows a full driving licence to be issued if the person has passed the test of competence to drive. The Motor Vehicles (Driving Licences) 1999 regulations require driving test examiners to meet certain criteria and pass an initial qualification and examination before being authorised by the Secretary of State to conduct practical driving tests. The regulations also specifically prohibit an examiner from simultaneously being an active ADI.

“Although ADIs are well qualified and proficient in driving and instruction, they are not experienced assessors and this is evidenced by the current practical test pass rate of 47%.

“The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) appreciates there is a high demand for driving tests. Once it is safe for driving tests to resume, the DVSA will ensure measures are in place to increase testing availability wherever possible; this will include offering overtime and annual leave buy back to examiners, asking all those qualified to carry out tests (warrant card holders) to do so, and conducting out of hours testing (such as on public holidays).”

Theory test certificates expiry

A separate petition to extend by 12 months driving theory test certificates due to expire in 2020/21 has also been dismissed by the government.

Again, nearly 50,000 people signed the petition calling for the validity of theory test certificates to go beyond two years as drivers struggle to book driving tests amid the pandemic.

In October, revealed that learner drivers face a £2.7m bill to re-sit theory tests.

The Department for Transport stated in its response: “The maximum duration of two years between passing the theory test and practical test is in place for road safety reasons and the government has no current plans to lay legislation to extend it.

“We realise this will affect and disappoint some learners, especially young people, but it is important that road safety knowledge and hazard perception skills are up-to-date at the critical point that new drivers drive unsupervised for the first time.

“Those with theory test certificates expiring will have taken their test in early 2019. Since then, their lessons and practice sessions will have been significantly curtailed during recent lockdowns and it is likely that their knowledge base will have diminished. Research suggests that this would be particularly harmful for hazard perception skills, a key factor in road safety.”

It added: “Ensuring new drivers have current relevant knowledge and skills is a vital part of the training of new drivers, who are disproportionality represented in casualty statistics. Taking all this into consideration, the decision has been made not to extend theory test certificates and learners will need to pass another theory test if their certificate expires.”

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