We are consulting on a number of proposals to encourage learner drivers to be better prepared to take their driving test.
One of those is changing the law so that we can carry out driving test eyesight checks in any level of light, not just good daylight.
In this blog post I’ll explain how you and your pupils could benefit from these changes and give an update on my DVSA role.
Increasing test availability
We know you and your pupils are frustrated by the current long waiting times for a driving test.
Unfortunately, we are restricted on when we can carry out tests - the law says we can only test someone’s eyesight as part of the driving test in good daylight.
This means we are unable to carry out tests before sunrise or after sunset and we sometimes have to cancel tests at short notice due to poor light caused by the weather.
The proposed change would allow us to carry out tests at any time and not just rely on candidates having to read from a car number plate.
We want to use different methods to test someone’s eyesight, such as a tablet, and we are working with the Secretary of State for Transport’s Honorary Medical Advisory Panel on Driving and Visual Disorders to assess and review this new approach.
Better preparing your pupils for safer driving for life
The changes would allow us greater flexibility to offer tests in lower light conditions.
This will help encourage learner drivers to practise driving more at night before their test.
We recognise night-time driving lessons are an important part of the training that you offer to your pupils.
However, 1 in 4 newly qualified drivers said they wished they had spent more time driving in the dark during their lessons in a recent survey.
More worryingly, 1 in 10 new drivers said they had actively avoided driving in the dark since passing their test.
This means around 47,000 drivers who passed their test in the last year might not be regularly driving at night.
This is a real concern, especially when around a third of all road accidents involve young drivers at night.
It’s important that the driving test reflects real-life driving conditions, and we believe this should include driving in all types of light.
Some of the skills required for driving in the dark are different from those needed for driving in daylight.
Things like spotting hazards in reduced visibility and overtaking at night are skills that your pupils should be practising with a professional, before doing it independently.
All drivers must be able to drive safely in the dark, so this proposal will better prepare your pupils for this important driving skill.
You still have time to have your say
So far we’ve received over 9,900 responses to our consultation on improving driving test availability and processes.
We hope you can support this proposal in our consultation, which proposes new measures to encourage your pupils to be better prepared for their driving test.
We believe these measures will help reduce the driving test waiting time and give us greater flexibility to provide more tests.
Time is running out to give your views. The consultation will end on 8 March at 11:59pm.
We understand how busy you are now, but we really value your views and hope you’ll take the time to respond. Also, please feel free to share this consultation with your friends and family.
You can read the consultation document and have your say on the GOV.UK consultation pages.
After 14 years at DVSA, Mark Magee has now retired and has handed over the DVSA Head of Driver Policy baton to me.
I previously worked for a number of years at DVLA where I led on projects such as the abolition of the tax disc, introducing a Direct Debit scheme for vehicle tax, digitising many of the vehicle paper-based services, improving accuracy of data and launching a new trailer registration scheme to help hauliers travel easily throughout Europe.
Before Mark left, he and I were able to have a good hand over of responsibilities and he shared how his experiences of attending and presenting at ADI events where he met and spoke to a lot of you. He said working with you had been a real pleasure and I’m really looking forward to being able to do the same.