Skip to main content

Reflecting on DVSA’s successes in 2022

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Driving instructors, Feature
Loveday Ryder, DVSA Chief Executive

I want to take you back to 2021, when we were facing arguably the most difficult challenge in DVSA's history that had such a substantial impact on our own work and home lives. Restrictions were still in place which limited the number of tests that we could carry out, face coverings were mandatory, you were unable to sit in on your pupils’ tests, and we had to stop tests early if the candidate made a serious or dangerous fault.

When restrictions lifted, we were all delighted that we could return to “normal” and I was proud to see how quickly we adapted to each new challenge and the progress that we made towards entering 2022 on a positive note.

In this blog post, I want to look back at all our achievements in 2022 including bringing driving test waiting times down, tackling businesses exploiting learner drivers, and the launch of our ‘Ready to Pass?’ campaign.

Reducing driving test waiting times

driving instructor teaching pupil in vehicleAs you know, much of our focus has been on reducing driving test waiting times. Through implementing several measures, we managed to:

  • carry out 1.67 million car tests in 2022 in comparison to 1.11 million car tests in 2021
  • carry out 42,827 more tests between May and December 2022 compared to the same period in 2021

Our latest statistics show that the pass rate (December 2022) is now at 48.8% which is 2.8% higher than in pre-pandemic 2019, when it was 46%. This is only possible when you bring learners who are ready for their test. The increase in the pass rate means an increase in the number of driving tests which are available.

We know we still have more work to do, so reducing driving test waiting times will continue to be our main priority in 2023.

Responding to industrial action and bad weather

Despite the challenges we have faced given the high demand for tests, impact of bad weather and industrial action, we have minimised as much as we can the impact on you and your pupils.

You also made sure that your pupils knew what action to take and followed the correct guidance if their test had been affected. This allowed us to rearrange tests quickly, and we will continue to process any out-of-pocket expense claims as quickly as possible.

Recruiting more driving examiners

Our campaign to recruit more driving examiners has continued to be a success. Since January 2022, we have hired 182 new examiners who are fully qualified and in test centres around the country. We also have a further 117 people who are currently qualifying that we hope to get into test centres soon.

As a result of our recruitment campaign, which was initially launched in April 2021, we have created an estimated 300,000 extra appointments.

Tackling businesses exploiting learner drivers

Last year, in a survey, 41.8% of you said your customers’ tests were being moved on the online business service by unofficial companies.

We introduced measures to tackle this, including:

  • stopping automatic online registrations to use the service. This gives us the chance to make sure each application is thoroughly checked
  • ensuring each company that registers employs an approved driving instructor, to stop unofficial companies from hoarding slots and charging extra for them
  • removing access for any companies not linked to driving instructors
  • updated the terms and conditions for using our online business service to make it clear

We plan to work closely with you to help educate learners about what they need to know and understand about booking their test through unofficial booking sites. We want to educate learners about how their data is being used and being charged an admin fee when not booking through our official booking service.

After we introduced these measures, we found the number of learners not attending their tests fell from 4.66% in April to June in comparison to 3.41% between July and December. This meant that an extra 10,426 tests to go ahead in this time. Given the high waiting times we want to do everything we can to make every test count.

Reducing the number of wasted driving tests

 To help us reduce the number of wasted tests caused by learners not turning up, we introduced a new text message reminder service in July to remind customers they had a test coming up. Introducing our reminder service also contributed to the extra tests that went ahead between July and December.

We appreciate you encouraging your pupils to add their telephone number when booking their driving test to enable them to receive our text message reminders.

Launching the Ready to Pass? campaign

One of the other challenges we’ve faced is that many learner drivers are taking their test before they are ready. As result more than half of them are having to book and retake their test again and are adding to the number of learners waiting for a test.

To help address this, we launched the ‘Ready to Pass?’ campaign in July.

Since we launched the campaign:

  • the campaign website has been visited over 180,000 times
  • the campaign website has been rated useful by 96% of learners who used it to prepare for the test
  • 5% of you are aware of the campaign
  • 45% of you share the campaign resources with your pupils who have upcoming tests. 

Responding to your queries

The pandemic left us with a build-up of queries that meant our usual waiting times were longer at the start of the year.

We’ve improved service levels by recruiting 49 extra customer service call agents. Colleagues have been working overtime to bring email waiting times down.

We’re proud that our call waiting times have dropped and now 75% are answered in under 2 minutes. This would not have been possible without those of you who have used our online services such as the book and manage your pupils test service, to help us bring our call waiting times down.

Emails relating to theory tests are down to 3-day response times, and those about practical tests now take 4 days.

Resources and open days to support you, your pupils, and their families  

We know how much it means to your pupils to pass their test and gain the freedom and independence having a driving licence offers them. This means you are often under a lot of pressure from your pupils and their families to take them before they are ready.

To help with this, in June we published guidance to help you carry out realistic mock tests which we know is a way that you can show a learner or a parent that they are not quite ready to take the test. This has been viewed 33,000 times and 99% of users who left feedback rated it as useful.

In November, we also published guidance to support people who are supervising learner drivers with private practice to help make sure they are doing this correctly and it complements the training you give to your pupils. So far, it's been viewed over 15,000 times.

Thank you to those of you who have promoted both guidances and shared them.

Also, 13 of our test centres have opened their doors to hold open days for you, your pupils and the people supporting their learning to drive journey to meet examiners and find out more about the driving test.

Over 2,700 people have attended and of those who did:

  • 82% said that it has helped them feel more confident about taking their test
  • 87% said that they would recommend attending an open day to other learners
  • 86% said that they enjoyed meeting driving examiners

Driving test: accessibility and process consultation

In January 2022, we held a consultation on changing some policies that affect learning to drive and driving tests. The consultation received over 21,000 responses.  I’d like to thank everyone who filled out the consultation to share your feedback with us.

We have been working behind the scenes to analyse the data, and the results of the consultation will be published soon.

Developing a new driving test booking service

We’ve been looking to the future and making plans to replace our driving test booking system. Last year, we carried out some research into the booking system to help us understand what you and your pupils need, what constraints we face, and what opportunities there are to improve things. We began work building and testing some working prototypes and trialling different ideas.
We will carry on this work in 2023 by developing the system and testing it with our customers.

Thank you for taking the time to help us with our research. This will help us to achieve our goal of providing great services - whether they’re learner drivers, driving instructors, training schools or our own colleagues.

Providing support to ADIs

In the summer, our ADI examiners team reached a key milestone of over 2,500 driving instructors taking the option of an engagement call before their standards check. This has now reached over 3,500 calls. To identify those who need our support, we prioritise them through the Test Information Programme which also means we no longer build backlogs.

The feedback we have received from you have said the engagement calls have helped you understand areas of your work that could be better and have valued the advice given to help make improvements.

Helping communicate the changes to The Highway Code

The rules for all types of road users in The Highway Code were updated to improve the safety of people walking, cycling, and riding horses. We appreciate how quickly you adapted and incorporated the new rules into your teaching and helping learners to better interact with vulnerable road users.

We are proud to have played an important role in supporting the Department for Transport in helping to communicate these changes and making the updated Highway Code available and accessible to road users.

In December 2022, we published The Highway Code in Welsh for the first time on GOV.UK, with the new printed edition in Welsh being launched in 2023.

Looking forward

2023 is set to be another exciting year for us. I have written another blog that outlines our plans for the upcoming year and you can read this on GOV.UK.

We are looking forward to working with you on many initiatives to deliver the best possible outcomes. I want to thank you for your continued commitment and effort. Every one of us has an important role to play in the work ahead and I’m confident that together we will achieve our goals.

Sharing and comments

Share this page


  1. Comment by lorraine barker-powell posted on

    Can’t be bothered to read this , we bring test ready pupils parents don’t , we don’t waste test slots parents do .a6 /7 month wait for a test date is totally unacceptable ift puts to much pressure on pupils to pass

  2. Comment by Madina khasim nambooze posted on

    It’s really nice to hear all the good work done,thank you so much.
    We are facing with another dilemma where someone is not ready to take test but no test slots to swap with hence leaving learners to come for the test just for the fear of not having another chance soon when they fail.
    If you can let the slots open for more months or possibly for a year. It will give learners opportunity to take the test again before there theory expires.
    Many learners who have the theory expires in june this year, have no chance to have a second attempt because no test slots available

  3. Comment by Gary Fossey posted on

    I retired from driver training in May 2022, partly owing to the utter Horlicks DVSA made of the industry. The one thing they don’t mention here is the only really important thing for instructors and learners. What is the average waiting time for a car test now?

  4. Comment by Stephen Leatherbarrow posted on

    These are challenging times for us all. The proactive approach taken by the DVSA, from examiners upwards, to address the current situation is really appreciated
    Lets hope things continue to improve and the agency, ADIs and examiners can continue to work together towards the common goal of improved road safety

  5. Comment by Haydn Jenkins posted on

    to be honest I don't see success, the DVSA three years on is blaming the pandemic for extremely poor service, to your paying customers, ADIs and driving test candidates, Three years on and your still hiding behind the pandemic, if there was an alternative provider of driving tests, they would be getting my business, reflecting on failing to provide the service promised would be a more accurate title for this blog.

  6. Comment by Shaun posted on

    I struggle to see how the changes to the Highway Code were well communicated , over 97% of road users have not adopted them. It would be nice to see closer working relations with Instructor examiners, as I don't see any improvements in pass rates for Part 3's.

    It is clear work is being done, but I'd still like to seethe DVSA acknowledge the hard work of instructors, so far, when pass rates improved it's all about how well you are doing, and when figures drop, it's down to teh instructors not preparing the pupils correct.

  7. Comment by Ian Thomas posted on

    All very good words and giving us a false idea that all the work the DVSA are doing is wonderful and improving the Driving Test service. The reality is test dates applied for on line according to 3 of my pupils this week are not available until 2004 despite claims that waiting times have improved. The Apps which are making a fortune from desperate candidates wanting to book Tests are continuing to function strongly by successfully exploiting the market. Clearly the DVSA 'measures' that were introduced are inaffective. The pass rate which has amazingly 'jumped' to 48,8% from 46% in 2019 despite a national average of 27% over the last 12 years is attributed to Instructors not entering pupils who are considered 'not test ready'. If that is the case, why has the Test pass rate not rocketed to a much higher figure!!???
    The most successful progress that has been made recently is by Driving Instructors Initiative of communicating with each other and swapping Test dates between themselves without DVSA intervention.

  8. Comment by Farhana posted on

    I have practical driving test on April 2023. It is second time for me to face the test . I need to get pass the test because my theory test will expire . Pray for me . It is not easy to boo kk the test . Thanks .

  9. Comment by Tom posted on

    Totally agree with Shaun on this one. No decent instructor presents a pupil for test that isn't ready. As for Part 3 DVSA really should hand this over to ORDIT to administer! Far too often PDI is getting 'pattern marked' by examiner, and failing where an existing ADI will have been passed but given areas to work on! Examiner feedback often doesn't match the marking, if you query it get told 'not for us to tell you get some help from an ORDIT trainer' we'll guess what I went out with 4 of the UK leading ORDIT trainers prior to my last attempt all of whom advised, I was delivering more than enough etc. Yet I failed with a lower mark than the first attempt when I didn't fully grasp what was required. ADI 1 stipulates "Benefit of doubt to be used.." yet it never happens. So the sooner DVSA are not allowed to deal with Instructor(s) the better. Else there will be no Instructors left.

  10. Comment by Graham Carroll posted on

    Thank you for efforts re test availability. The new highway code rules, unfortunately have not improved safety for pedestrians, theve actually made them (which includes all of us) more vulnerable by giving them priority, because very few drivers realise this which is dangerous. In my opinion.

  11. Comment by John posted on

    I man ADI and basically fed up of get emails of look at our success what we have achieved since COVID but to be honest you have achieved nothing just lots of words , still blaming the pandemic waiting lists are no better that just after the lock down and by the way how well did you not react to the pandemic looking to employ more examiners about a year 2 late well anticipated I don't think not so good forward planning there I'm afraid .
    Driving test unfortunately students that take there test for example they get 2 minor faults then unfortunately stop with the front of the car in a keep clear or a bike area at traffic lights they get failed why I done this 32 years and examiner's they have list the gift of common sense they are asking good students to come back again due to a lack of common sense that would bring the test application down bring back examiners that are human an ADI that is frustrated with the DSA

  12. Comment by Julian posted on

    This is my 4th instance to book slot, each time wait is 5-6 months in Bromley. Since 2021 there is no improvement in wait time. Some of the ideas DVSA could do is
    1. Priority slots for failed retest.. should get slot within month ..since costs are increasing for training lessons if huge gaps.
    2. Reduce the test timing from 35 mins to 20 mins
    3. Until the wait times are back to normal, do not give slots to young people below 22 year, since they are unlikely to be driving anyway after license for work or school runs
    4. Stop greedy instructors mass block the slots and sell and create backlog
    5. Fail only for dangerous mistakes and stop failing people for small silly mistakes
    6. Make 20 hours instructor lessons mandatory before booking test

  13. Comment by John Smith posted on

    I'd be very interested to know how many examiner's have left Vs how many you've recruited in the same time period. From the outside it looks like your staff are abandoning ship due to the low pay and poor management.