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Great people, lots of progress and road safety: looking back at my time as Chief Driving Examiner

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Lesley with her 2 dogs, Rosie and Ollie
Lesley with her 2 dogs, Rosie and Ollie

As you might have heard, I’ll be retiring in June 2018 and, with leave, my last working day will be 31 May – and that means this will be my last blog post.

It marks the end of a 33-year career at the agency, which has been both challenging and rewarding.

I’ve covered many driving examiner management roles from test centre manager to head of operations and also spent many a happy day at Cardington as a proud member of the training team.

Leaving as Head of Policy and Chief Driving Examiner, I've achieved more than I ever imagined I would when I joined back in 1985 as one of the few female examiners at that time.

I've worked with some wonderful people, many of whom, past and present, came to share my retirement celebration last week. It was a fantastic night and I was overwhelmed and humbled by the comments in a lovely memory book together with the generous gifts I received.

While I know I will quickly recover from the need to go to work, I will miss those people greatly.

Looking back

My impending retirement also got me thinking (as most major changes in life do) about what I’ve achieved and what I’m proud of.

In the 83-year history of the driving test, becoming the first female Chief Driving Examiner felt like a huge achievement.

Lesley Young appearing on BBC Breakfast
Lesley is proud of having had the opportunity to represent our work in the media. Here she is on BBC Breakfast talking about changes to the driving test.

During my time, I’ve also been especially proud of:

  • being the head of our profession and being responsible for a driving test that is held in such high regard across not only Europe, but by many countries worldwide
  • the professionalism of our driving examiners, delivering a fair and high-quality service with unrivalled integrity - assessing if someone should have a licence to drive solo is a huge responsibility and is so important in keeping our roads safe
  • replacing the ADI check test with the ADI standards check – an important project to drive up training standards
  • introducing state-of-the-art computer-generated video to the hazard perception of the theory test
  • having had the opportunity to represent our work in the media - I hope I did us proud
  • improved relationships with our key stakeholders that have meant we have had support from industry as never before
  • introducing the changes to the driving test in 2017 - our driving examiners have worked so hard to bring this to reality, and I really believe the changes will better prepare new drivers for the reality of driving independently
  • delivering iPads to every examiner so that we can start the journey to modernise the way we work

So while I will not be at DVSA to see this last point right through, I'm delighted that I was able to play my part in delivering a promise to our driving examiners to provide modern technology to help them all in their working lives. So now everyone has an iPad and can at last communicate independently. I hope it will not be long before many more features are available and all tests are recorded electronically.

This is a major achievement that was made possible by huge cooperation and hard work between directorates. It shows that this agency will deliver on its promises to ensure that our frontline staff have the best equipment to support them in their work.

It’s been a privilege to lead

I’ve been the Chief Driving Examiner since 2012, providing professional advice and direction to all our driving examiners.

Leadership is a privilege. You can only lead with the support of a team – and the team at DVSA is brilliant. They’re dedicated, determined, talented and care about road safety. It’s been an honour and a pleasure to work with them all.

I’m leaving the role of Chief Driving Examiner in more than capable hands. Mark Winn, currently Deputy Chief Driving Examiner, will become the new Chief Driving Examiner from Monday 4 June 2018. I wish him every success for the future – he will have plenty to keep him busy, not least all the complexities of automated vehicles.

With the golf course beckoning, I'm looking forward to living life at a more relaxed pace and spending more time with my husband, Brian, and our 2 dogs, Rosie and Ollie (cream teas at the seaside!).

In closing, my thanks to each and every one of you. The work you do doesn’t always get the credit it deserves – but it’s vital. Here's to a lifetime of safe driving, and I wish you all the best for the future.

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  1. Comment by Shirley Johnston posted on

    Have a wonderful retirement.

    • Replies to Shirley Johnston>

      Comment by Lesley Young posted on

      Thank you all for your kind comments. Lesley

  2. Comment by Louise Watson posted on

    Wishing you all the best in your retirement.

  3. Comment by Bashir Tahir posted on

    Great career and good luck with everything

  4. Comment by Oberon posted on

    Enjoy your family and friends, and find things to do that you want to do.

  5. Comment by Mohamed posted on

  6. Comment by Roderick Davidson posted on

    Enjoy your retirement.

  7. Comment by Hugh G-A posted on

    Best wishes for a long and happy retirement. Glad to have been part of your team.

  8. Comment by Alan Fisher posted on

    Well done for all your hard work and dedication with the DVSA, I hope you have a wonderful retirement and enjoy quality time with your husband and those gorgeous dogs of yours.

  9. Comment by Robert posted on

    All the best and enjoy the new adventures ahead ?

  10. Comment by Gary Fossey posted on

    So long and thanks for all the fish.

  11. Comment by Sue Duncan posted on

    Wishing you a long and happy retirement.

  12. Comment by Steve Froud posted on

    Best wishes on your retirement, I'm sure Brian and the dogs will keep you busy. Seems a long time ago we worked together in Taunton and Nottingham. Hope you have a long and happy retirement.

    • Replies to Steve Froud>

      Comment by Lesley Young posted on

      Steve, good to hear from you and thank you for your good wishes. L

  13. Comment by Jules posted on

    Fantastic career, well deserved retirement. Enjoy now spending quality time with your family.

  14. Comment by Andrew catmull posted on

    I’m an instructor and just want to say thank you for your dedication and I wish you a very happy retirement
    Andrew Catmull ADI.

  15. Comment by Roger Jewell posted on

    Thank you for all you have done. Best wishes to you and your family for a healthy retirement, well deserved. Roger Jewell ADI & Fleet

  16. Comment by Abid (ADI) posted on

    We all are going to miss you have a wonderful retirement. Enjoy every minute with your family. Abid G (ADI)

  17. Comment by Alan Shirley posted on

    I'm sure you've done as well as anyone can and I wish you a long happy and healthy retirement. But in the real world of teaching new drivers, many of whom have parents that simply view us Adi's as only there to take people to their test. After all there is still no mandate to use any professional instructor, giving many parents the message that we are an expensive luxury. I've attached a recent report from an ADI that is far from being unusual. The fault in our system is that we are not held in high regard and although DVSA makes efforts to improve all aspects of teaching and testing, the fact that there is no mandate, means the message remains "The school of Mum & Dad is sufficient".


    " I know there has been recent posts lately, about parents, wanting to book tests for their children when they aren’t ready, after today I’m really had enough.
    Arrive at pupils house, mum comes out, says he will be late he’s only just got up 5 minutes ago, his lesson was at 2.30pm, I’m going to book his practical test she said, he’s not ready I replied, he has only done 5 one and half hour lessons this year, but he’s done plenty of driving she said, where I ask, up and down the main roads, was the reply, so not in town I ask, no she says I won’t take him in town I’m not confident enough with his driving, but you think he’s test ready I ask, well his Theory runs out in 6 weeks, well he needs to do lessons properly and not now and again I said. He turns up 2.50pm. Only dual controlled him 3 times during lesson, once for turning right at traffic lights, not giving way to on coming traffic, once for not noticing person on zebra crossing, once for not looking right on roundabout car coming, also approaching pedestrian crossing on flashing amber,suddenly slams brakes on, no one on crossing, why did you do that I ask, because they are going to go to red was the reply,are you sure about that I ask, yes was the reply, then he notices they go to green, oh wasn’t expecting that he said, why not I asked that’s the next colour after flashing amber isn’t it. Back to his house mum comes out, your back early? No I said, back at the time the lesson was meant to finish, if he’s not ready at the time he should be, then it’s his time his wasting, not mine, I have another lesson to get to. How did he do, his mum asks, well he’s certainly not ready for a test, I said and he needs to do regular lessons not just now and again, also told her the things that went wrong, and why don’t you sit in the back next lesson and see for yourself, I’m not going to do that was the reply, it’s to scary with him driving, so why are you insisting on booking a test then, when you know he’s not ready, I’m sorry at times he’s just dangerous I said, he just doesn’t concentrate enough on what he’s doing, and what is around him. But I said if you want to book a test you can, but it won’t take place in my car, unless there is a vast improvement, otherwise you can take him in yours. We will see what happens".

    • Replies to Alan Shirley>

      Comment by Andy D posted on

      Brilliant post, a real eye opener, not sure this was the right place for it, but a worthwhile insight nonetheless.

  18. Comment by Mohammed maroof posted on

    Wish you all the best. Mohammed. Maroof. Dvsa adi.

  19. Comment by Niamah ali posted on

    All your hard work and dedication have left a legacy of memories and the roads are a safer place ..? time to open your wings and fly ???

  20. Comment by Siobhan Fowler posted on

    Thank you for all that you have done and for inspiring us to continue in your what you have made happen.
    All the best for your retirement.

  21. Comment by Eshan Moossun posted on

    Dear Lesley,
    Thank you for the great work you did to keep our roads safe and all the very best for the future.

  22. Comment by Tasnim Bhana posted on

    Happy retirement all the best for future

  23. Comment by Pennie Alexander posted on

    Enjoy the quieter life. Happy retirement.

  24. Comment by Lakhbir Singh posted on

    Wishing you a wonderful happy and long Retirement.
    Lakhbir Singh

  25. Comment by Andy D posted on

    Lesley, may your retirement be a long, healthy and happy adventure.

  26. Comment by Abdul matin Tawafi ADI posted on

    Thanks for whatever you have done in regards of safety on the roads !
    Wish you a long healthy life and relaxing retirement.

    All the best .

  27. Comment by Zaheer posted on

    Thank you for sharing your great career experience

  28. Comment by Sue Walsh posted on

    Hi Lesley

    It has been an absolute pleasure knowing and working with you over many years. Wishing you, Brian and those beautiful 2 dogs, Rosie and Ollie a long and happy retirement together, may all your dog walks be sunny. Take Care. Sue Walsh

  29. Comment by Steve Ward posted on

    I have many fond memories of the times we trained new entrants at Cardington Lesley, we always made training enjoyable as much as we could. Sorry that Kim and I could not make it to your party, all the very best for the future for you and Brian.

  30. Comment by Tony Moore posted on

    Dear Lesley,
    Thank you for all your help, support and encouragement over the past 20 years +, Here's wishing you and Brian a long, happy and healthy retirement together on and off the golf course.

  31. Comment by Keith Mansfield posted on

    It seems a hige journey since knowing you in the 90's at both Taunton and Yeovil Lesley. I still remember those days with a smile.

    You've made great progress in updating the ageing system we knew back then. There will always be more alterations; it's a shame, in some ways, you won't be the one to oversee them.

    Wishing you and Brian all the best and a happy retirement together.

    1st Young Driver Training (one for Brian!)

  32. Comment by Sharon Collyer posted on

    Wishing you a long and happy retirement. You have been a very positive and inspiring female role model and we are sorry to see you go! Good luck !!! 🙂

  33. Comment by Dave Wilson posted on

    Hi Lesley
    It seems a very long time ago since I was an ADI and you were a DE at Clifton Bristol. A lot of water has gone under the bridge since then during which time when our paths have crossed it has always been a pleasure to see you. Enjoy the golf, very best wishes to yourself and Brian.

  34. Comment by charles Owens posted on

    In our fast moving world, it is quite an achievement to reach retirement age. Regarding this Blob. The honest response has got to be that it can only be left to the opinion of each individual.

  35. Comment by Colin Lilly posted on

    On behalf of the members of the Motor Schools Association of Great Britain throughout the Western region we would like to wish you and Brian a long and healthy retirement.
    Thank you for all your help and advice during your time from examiner to management in this region.

  36. Comment by Magan Singh Adi posted on

    Wishing you a very happy retirement thanks for all your support may God give you healthy life and spend valuable time with family God bless you.

  37. Comment by Len McLaren posted on

    Hi Lesley
    We joined the DSA at the same time and we attended the same initial training course at Cardington. I have been retired now for for 14 years and I can thoroughly recommend it. I hope that you enjoy your retirement as much as I am enjoying mine. All the very best for the future. Len McLaren