Driving Test Examiners Could Strike

Driving Test

More bad news for frustrated learner drivers and their instructors could be on the horizon.

AThe DVSA today advised driving instructors in an email that they have been given notice by the PCS union that the driving test examiners are to be balloted on possible strike action.

The background story

Since the driving test system was shut down because of covid-19, there has been an unprecedented backlog in driving tests.  Candidates have found it impossible to book driving tests or have faced delays of around 18 weeks. This was not really anyones fault in the beginning and no one could have predicted the massive impact of covid-19 and the consequences of the government lockdowns.

However, the DVSA who are responsible for conducting the driving tests have been overwhelmed and are finding it extremely difficult to deal with the backlog.  They have already tried recruiting more driving test examiners, but this seems to have had little effect so far. So they are now about to start trialling a new idea that has enraged driving test examiners and their union.


What’s the problem now?

The DVSA are now about to start trials, extending the number of driving tests an examiner does in a day, extending the working day from 7 tests, to 8 tests a day.  In order for this to be done the DVSA propose to reduce the time between each test an examiner conducts.  Even though it’s only one extra test a day, if an examiner works 5 days a week – that’s 5 extra tests a week.   So could in theory mean 20+ tests a month,  equiviant to over a 240 (estimate) tests a year.  All for no extra pay.  

It does seem slightly unfair on the driving test examiners, but I can understand why the DVSA are trying to sort the situation out.  it also seems unfair on candiates who are waiting for tests, for the DVSA not to at least try! But, if I were an examiner I would not be happy.  8 driving tests a day seems a little too much to ask, especially for no extra pay or reward.  As an instructor, there is no way I would want to do 8 lessons a day, every day.  I would simply be exhausted due to the level of focus and concentration required.  There is a lot more to it than sitting in the passenger seat all day watching someone drive!


So what’s next?

At the moment the union have only just announced that they are going to ballot their members on strike action.  Nothing will happen straight away as the process can be lengthy and needs to be done according to the letter of the law. As a driving instructor, I would guess that the driving test examiners would vote in order of strike action, or some kind of work to rule.


Will it affect my driving test?

If strike action does go ahead it is very likely that some of the driving tests in Basingstoke will be affected.  But, it is worth noting that not all of the local examiners are likely to all be part of the same union.  If they are not part of the union they would not be legally allowed to take part in any strike action, or they could lose their jobs.  So could only be a handful of examiners that actually strike.

This will however have an impact on driving tests and could lead to tests being cancelled.  After all, no examiner – no test!

This will obviously be a blow to the DVSA’s attempt to catch up with driving tests, and may well mean additional delays and frustration for learner drivers waiting to take a driving test, but at the moment we will have to wait and see.  This whole situation is not what any of us want, and it is becoming increasingly frustrating.