Vocational driving test waiting times – getting back on track

Vocational driving test waiting times – getting back on track

Dear Colleagues,

Please see the latest update from the DVSA below:

Vocational driving test waiting times – getting back on track

Today (20 July) the government has published an open letter to the UK Logistics Sector and announced plans to increase lorry driving tests.

We want to explain how we are supporting these and how these changes will affect you and your pupils.

What we are currently doing to reduce waiting times

We understand how difficult it has been recently for vocational trainers. We know all too well how the pandemic has impacted businesses, lessons and tests.

Since vocational testing restarted following the easing of restrictions, we have typically made a total of 3,000 vocational tests available per week, compared to 2,000 pre-pandemic. This has helped almost 1,500 new HGV drivers every week pass their test. We have increased test availability by:

  • asking all those qualified to conduct vocational tests
  • offering additional out of hours tests where we can and where there is a demand

We have also been working to develop measures to maximise testing capacity which we will now give you more details on.

Reducing the number of available car and trailer tests

DVSA plans to help address the lorry driver shortage and meet the demand for lorry tests by prioritising vocational tests. Unfortunately, this will lead to a reduction in the number of car and trailer test appointments in the future.

All your existing booked tests will still go ahead.

Booking the test you need at the time of booking

DVSA plans to introduce changes that mean you will be asked to choose the type of test you want to book at the time of booking. You will no longer be able to change the type of test you’ve booked between categories if this involves a car and trailer test. You will still be able to change the candidate details.

This change will help us allocate our vocational driving examiners more efficiently and make sure that we are carrying out as many lorry tests as possible.

All your existing booked tests will still go ahead and will be converted to the category of tests chosen at the time of booking.

You will be given separate booking limits for vocational and car and trailer tests. This will be based on your trainer booking history for both categories.

We will update you again ahead of these changes being introduced.

Recruiting new vocational examiners

We plan to launch a recruitment campaign in the coming weeks to recruit 40 new vocational examiners across Great Britain to help us to reduce vocational waiting times.

Successful applicants will need to have a full lorry licence.

The new recruits will initially have to carry out car driving tests as part of their training, but will quickly progress to carrying out vocational tests as soon as possible.

Temporarily pausing delegated examiner training

We are also taking steps to increase our training capacity. However, we need to prioritise the training of our DVSA vocational examiners as they will enable us to increase testing capacity faster and allow us to offer more lorry test appointments.

This means we will need to temporarily pause the training of delegated examiners for at least 6 months. We will continue to keep this under review and let you know in advance of any changes.

DVSA will continue to provide driving tests for the emergency services and has launched a consultation on changes to the arrangements for delegated testing in the ambulance, fire and police services.

Consultations on changes to lorry licences and tests

The government has also confirmed plans to seek views on:

  • the delegation of the off-road manoeuvres to trainers issuing provisional licence entitlements to drive articulated lorries and rigid lorries at the same time to allow candidates to take an articulated lorry test, without having to pass a rigid lorry test first
  • allowing car drivers to tow a trailer without the need for an additional test

We will let you know how you can share your views on these proposals in due course.

For information about these government proposals and others read the government open letter to the UK Logistics Sector.

Understanding your business needs

We plan to establish a new business manager role to work with you to better understand your current and future business needs. They will provide a local contact for you so we can be more responsive to your needs and help you to build your business.

Keeping you up-to-date on progress

We will report on the progress of the plan to increase vocational driving test capacity every 3 months following the publication of the driving test quarterly statistics, including the number of vocational tests that have been carried out and the latest pass rates.

We will continually measure our progress in reducing vocational test waiting times. We will assess the impact of all the actions in this plan.

The plan might change as:

  • we learn more about what’s working well
  • we find out what’s not working as we’d hoped
  • new ideas emerge

It could also change based on government COVID-19 restrictions.

We will keep you updated with progress on GOV.UK, by email and on social media.

Yours sincerely

Peter Harvey
National Chair