Observer on driving test – The DSA backs down
The controversial plan for all learner drivers to be accompanied on driving test by their driving instructor from October 2010 has been partially scrapped.
A meeting was held at DSA’s Headquarters with ADI representative organisations on 24th September 2009. At the meeting, the DSA responded to the objections raised by ADI’s and ADI organisations to the original proposal of making it mandatory for supervising drivers to accompany candidates on all driving tests.
DSA Chief Executive Rosemary Thew explained that the DSA had reflected on the points raised. Chief Operating Manager Brian Gilhooley read out the following statement:
“The proposal that candidates should be required to take an observer with them on their practical car driving test from October 2010 has generated a great deal of debate. DSA has received comments from a variety of stakeholders and has met with the ADI Consultative Groups and the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS). We have listened carefully to all the views expressed. We remain convinced that an observer sitting in on test will enhance the learning process, which, in turn, will provide road safety benefits. We recognise, however, that there are valid reasons why an approach based on education and incentivisation might be preferable to mandating through regulation at this stage.
“So this is the approach we suggest: at the start of the test, driving examiners will ask all candidates if they would like their driving instructor (or another observer, such as a parent, guardian or friend who has taught the candidate to drive) to sit in on their test. The examiner will then ask the candidate if they would like their instructor be present for the test result and debrief. This will allow candidates to take advantage of the opportunities available to support their ongoing learning and development, but will leave the final decision with them.
“From the feedback received on this issue we also recognise that a full review of the minimum test vehicle (MTV) for Cat B tests should be carried out. However, a mandatory change to the MTV would be a long process and we want you to work with us on this. In the meantime, we will seek to develop a set of guidelines to help to deal with the health and safety issues raised by some of the vehicles now in use. This will ensure that we can continue to maintain the integrity of the test through quality assurance and check testing.
“We want to work in partnership with the driver training profession to help candidates get the most from their training and from their practical test experience. We want candidates to understand that driving instructors and driving examiners are professional experts working together to help them to be safe and responsible drivers with the overall aim of improving road safety.
“We hope that you will work with us to support and promote this approach by encouraging your members to always:
• observe their pupils’ tests
• listen to the examiner’s debrief, to help inform their pupils’ ongoing learning and development
• display their ADI badge on test.
“We would value your response to this proposal. The choice remains with the candidate and this will be explained to them in all correspondence relating to their driving test. We know that many ADIs already accompany candidates and make themselves available for the debrief. Displaying the ADI badge will still be voluntary.”
At Latics, we already encourage our instructors accompany their pupils on test if the pupil wishes them to. The assessment nature of the driving test at the moment means that candidates normally only get feedback on what went wrong on their test from the examiner whether they pass or fail . Hearing from the instructor what they did well on the test goes a long way to restoring confidence for when they drive for the first time on the road alone.