We launched our ‘Ready to Pass?’ campaign a few weeks ago now. I’m grateful to everyone who has promoted the campaign with their pupils and the wider public.
In this blog post, I want to tell you more about:
- how we developed the campaign
- the types of messages your pupils might see – and why
- some of the changes we’ve made based on your feedback
But let’s start at the beginning with a reminder of what we’re trying to achieve with your help.
What we want to achieve
In our campaign, we’re trying to change the behaviour of learner drivers so they:
- do not take a driving test before they’re ready – with the most important factor being that you agree that they’re ready
- do not end up wasting a driving test appointment by failing to attend, or not bringing the right documents, a suitable car or arriving late (these are the types of things most likely to happen to those who do not attend with an instructor)
Finding out what attitudes and intentions we need to change
The most critical thing we’ve had to do is understand all of the detail of why learner drivers are doing what they’re doing.
Yes, we know it’s caused by the longer waiting times. But understanding who and what influences them, what their attitudes are and what their intentions are really helps to make sure we can write things in a way that are more likely to get through to them.
To do this, we’ve used a mix of:
- interviews with learner drivers
- research with driving instructors
- analysing comments on social media
- analysing driving test data
- desk-based research on the latest communication trends
- analysing what learner drivers search for online
Combined, it’s helped us build up a good picture of the attitudes, intentions and behaviours of learner drivers. With that insight gathered, the next step was to design communications to start to change the behaviour.
Why we called it ‘Ready to Pass?’
Our research showed that when searching online, perhaps not unsurprisingly, learner drivers are looking for things like:
- ‘how to pass driving test first time’
- ‘when are you ready for driving test’
They’re not searching for ‘safe driving for life’.
To get in front of those people, and to get towards the top of search engine results, we’ve got to use the language learner drivers actually use.
That’s why we called the campaign ‘Ready to Pass?’.
For some people, this might seem like the campaign is immediately far too test-focused. But once we can get them to our website, we can then start to expand on the importance of having the skills they’ll need to help them through a lifetime of safe driving.
Helping learner drivers understand what it means to be ready to pass
Our research with learner drivers showed that many felt they did not understand what it actually means to be ready to take the driving test.
It’s another reason our campaign is called ‘Ready to Pass?’. And it’s why part of the website includes a 5-point checklist to help learner drivers reflect on their progress in a manageable way.
Choosing where to communicate
The next step was to decide how to communicate about the campaign website.
As we have the email addresses of learner drivers who have booked a driving test, we can send them emails at different points in the lead up to their test.
There are 6 main emails. Learner drivers will not necessarily get all 6 – it depends on how far away their test is.
Here’s a summary of when they’re sent and what they’re about:
- Importance of learning with a driving instructor and combining it with private practice (sent at 147 to 168 days before the test).
- Importance of recording the progress they’re making learning to drive (sent at 57 to 70 days before the test).
- Importance of taking mock tests to make sure they’re ready (sent at sent at 43 to 56 days before the test).
- Importance of having a strategy in place to control their nerves when they take the test (sent at 22 to 34 days before the test).
- Our 5-point checklist to reflect on whether they’re ready – and to make sure they have your agreement to take the test (sent at 8 to 14 days before the test).
- Reminder of what to bring on the day, the date, time and test centre name (sent at 1 to 7 days before the test).
Our research shows most learners expect to pass
Our research shows that learner drivers who fail the driving test think they were overly confident in their ability to pass and just expected to pass.
In research interviews, learner drivers also said they want to take a test as soon as possible to avoid the cost of lessons and shorten the amount of time it takes to access more affordable insurance. They also say there’s no disincentive to taking multiple attempts to pass the test.
So try to ‘nudge’ the behaviour, we’re including 2 pieces of information in the emails to give them a fuller picture and help them reflect. These are:
- the latest published driving test pass rate for their area – aiming to challenge overconfidence
- the average amount of time it takes to wait for another test if they fail – aiming to point out the disincentive is that it will delay them gaining independence
We’re keeping the messages under review, and we’re carrying out further research to see if this is starting to change attitudes and behaviours.
Why you might have received the emails – and what you should do
You might have received these emails if you have either:
- booked a test for your pupil using the normal booking service, and put your email address
- booked a test using the service to book and manage tests for your pupils, and put your email address in the field where we specifically ask for the candidate’s email address – we do not send them to the business email address that booked it
If you’re booking tests on behalf of your pupils, please enter their email address where we ask for it.
We’ve relaunched the DVSA Instagram channel to help us connect with learner drivers and get our campaign messages in front of them.
Research by Ofcom has shown that Instagram is the top mobile app used by those aged 15 to 24. In September 2021, 90% of people aged 15 to 24 who are online visited Instagram. It’s a place we definitely need to be so learner drivers see our messages.
Evaluating, changing and improving
The campaign has been running for just over 3 weeks now. It’s still far too early to know if it’s starting to provide all the outcomes we want.
But we can start to see some important data. So far we know that:
- we’ve sent about 1,100,00 emails
- our posts on Instagram have been seen 500,000 times
- our posts on Instagram have been engaged with over 4,500 times – which means people have either liked them, commented on them or saved the post
- our campaign website has been viewed over 56,000 times
- 4.7% of visitors to the campaign website have tried to move their test back as a result of viewing the site
Making changes to the website and emails
As we learn more about what’s working well and what could work better, we’ll make changes to the website and emails. This is not just a case of us putting something out there and walking away from it.
Since launching, we’ve made improvements to:
- the wording of the 5-point checklist that encourages learner drivers to reflect on whether they’re ready to drive safely on their own
- the wording about moving a test back – reflecting that limited availability in some areas means it’s not always as easy as we’d like
- the communications toolkit you can use with your pupils
Over the coming weeks we’ll continue to monitor all the data we’re getting. And as we learn more, we’ll keep improving. That could be from things as simple as tweaking the wording of an email, right through to launching another channel to reach learner drivers.
We’ll keep blogging as we go so you can keep up to date and learn as we do.
Comment by ian andrews posted on
Your sending pupils an email about the importance of driving instructors 147-168 days before their test. That ‘s 5-6 months before their test.
Are we assuming that test waiting list are going to 5-6 months? Don’t most learner drivers have a conversation with their instructors about when to book a test? Are we asking pupils to book their test 5/6 months in advance? Are we therefore trying to second guess their ability to learn over the next 5-6 months and hope they make the grade? Is it realistic to wait until the pupil is ready for test and then book their test knowing it awill be 5-6 month waiting if they are lucky enough to get a test??
Surely getting test waiting times reduced should be the immediate priority which would enable instructors a realistic opportunity to manage their pupil’s test expectations and thus bring them to test at the appropriate driving standard required.
Comment by Ian Morrison posted on
Driving test waiting times have consistently been at 5-6 months since the pandemic. Yes this needs to be improved. Yes we inevitably book a test well before they are ready and manage expectations on the run into that test date. Some students accept my guidance and move the date out if we are not ready. If we are ready early, we try to bring the date forward. That does work. Guesstimate, 50% of my students refuse to delay their test date. They go elsewhere because I won’t support them. This campaign can only help this situation.
Comment by Geoff posted on
This is all very nice and comes across as a camouflage for not getting the waiting times sorted, but a simple way to make sure learners are ready for their test is to increase the price of the test to at least £150 for the 1st & 2nd test and then more for future tests. The extra revenue received being put toward more examiners and better waiting room facilities.
I guarantee people would think twice before taking it and more likely to seek their instructors advise. You can try and change attitudes but money talks I’m afraid.
Comment by MIke posted on
Great suggestion Geoff.
Let's really ramp up the pressure on the poor learner by making them pay through the nose if they have the temerity to fail twice.
Comment by Ian morrison posted on
Bang on. Simple maths, test fee v lesson fee.
The current price of a lesson incentivises students to take a test early.
Comment by Bryan Jack posted on
The base problem you seem to be addressing is the massive test backlog.
To me this “Ready to Drive “ thing will only cause many more problems such as destroying the relationships ADIs have built with their pupils. Suddenly text messages and emails start arriving from a system that knows nothing about the pupils. So ADIs have to spend a large amount of teaching time explaining what they know about the pupil and what the DVSA does not know.
To address the test backlog there are many things the DVSA can implement simply.
For instance ban test tourism. That is no test at a test centre more than say 25 miles from the address on the licence unless supporting evidence from employer or educational institution. During the pandemic I received endless calls from people with tests booked in Glasgow and they were going to fly in from all parts of the UK for a couple of hours training before their tests.
Every test booked must have the candidates name and licence number. Do not permit any organisation or person to reserve tests for other people. This will eliminate the black market where tests are being sold at highly inflated prices. As an ADI, I expect my pupils to be able to book a test themselves. When they pass they will need to be able to manage car tax, MOTs, insurance, driving licence renewal and many other things. Why on earth can they not book their own tests.
Comment by Michael deane posted on
By asking learners why they are so confident before they are ready,wheredoes it come from
have they done a number of mock tests and passed them to give them
the wright to be confidient they need to pass three mock tests with a
good instructor they have to be 110% ready not 100% to allow for the
Comment by Andrew Ross posted on
Hi Andrew here, 31 years instructing, for a start the minimum requirement to be an examiner is that you should have been a driving instructor, The next thing I would do is have it compulsory that every one learns with an instructor, and that instructors sign to say that person is ready for a test, doing this would push pass rates up, for a short time till the backlog clears there could be 2 waiting lists 1 where a candidate has been signed off by their instructor and has no more than say 4 weeks to wait for a test, and those not signed by their instructor would have to wait whatever the waiting list is, over a length of time the waiting lists would come down. Then every candidate should be signed off by their instructor. Going down this route candidates would have to be ready to be allowed to apply for a test.
And if there is anyone from the Dvsa reading this how about using the TV screen to keep drivers aware of their responsibilities when driving on our roads, I'm sure the vast majority of instructors would agree that our roads are now like the Wild west.
Comment by Habib Rahman posted on
The message is being put out "ready to pass the test" does not go far enough
It does not give indication what experience learner driver needs to pass the test, e.g. on average how many hours of driving lessons needed for someone to be ready for the driving test.
Also, candidates think there are only a few test route candidate need to familiarise, therefore DVSA need to send out a message there are no specific test route candidate will use for test, as this could change if candidates take a wrong turning or if any obstruction in the road causes examiner to divert, therefore candidates should be capable of driving in any road or traffic conditions
Ready to pass the test message is not making candidate think any differently than before
Comment by Rabia posted on
I think that even if some people are not ready for the test they will still try to take it because of no test date availability. They will try their best ofcourse as no one wants to fail and risk redoing their theory test or be on a long wait to have their test booked in again. I think the best thing to do is give availability for test dates so the learner can book a date in the future when they are more ready. In the email sent out by dvla there are options to cancel your test but no options to book a date suitable for the learner. I think many learners are even ready but nerves do kick in sometimes especially if your not comfortable with your examiner. I took my test 2nd time on 8th August after failing on 27th June and passed my test although I was still feeling I wasn't ready because of just not trusting my self enough I'm glad I took the test and passed with just 1 minor. Sometimes emails like this do make you doubt yourself even more but if your instructor thinks your ready you should go ahead with the test.