Learner motorists – expect a raft of changes to motoring as you know it
Learner motorists! Are you keeping up with planned government changes to the world of motoring? Brace yourself, things are going to change…
Book Theory Test Today says: “There’s a road revolution coming that’s going to affect the country’s learner motorists. The Conservative government is planning a major overhaul, the largest of its kind since the practical driving test was introduced in 1935 and guess what, it involves privatisation.”
Part-privatisation of the practical driving test
Yes learner motorists, the government wants to part-privatise the practical driving test, a reform that really doesn’t come as a surprise, but is highly controversial. What this looks like is unknown, but it’s certainly something the government is strongly considering.
Additionally, the government will sanction the closure of various test centres and job losses can be expected across multiple motoring agencies. The cost of buying a personalised number plate will increase and the age at which drivers must declare that they are fit to drive will go from 70 to 75.
Government ministers are also looking at ways to tailor the driving test to accommodate driverless cars over the next 10 years.
A consultation paper produced by the Department for Transport (DfT) outlining the proposed reforms will be published next month (October 2015). The paper contains strategic plans for 2016 concerning the UK’s three main motoring agencies - the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA), the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) and the Vehicle Certification Authority (VCA).
Improving the driving test pass rate
In particular, government officials are targeting learner motorists with the reforms in an attempt to improve the driving test pass rate that’s stuck below 50 per cent. The consultation document states that there is solid evidence of poorly-prepared learner motorists booking a driving test after just a few lessons.
The frantic surge in the number of bookings however, can be attributed to concerns over current waiting times between booking a driving test and actually taking it, which recently extended to 16 weeks across some parts of Britain.
Improved driving test slots
However, under the proposed reforms, the government hopes to implement more flexible driving test slots for learner motorists, with an increase in the number of evening and weekend appointments made available.
The consultation document also proposes that driving test examiners could be asked to photograph learner motorists once they’ve passed their test to allow a licence to be processed more quickly.
The DfT will also ‘explore options’ to reduce the DVSA’s driving test centre estate, plus test sites for heavy goods vehicles. Book Theory Test Today says: “Many of those employed by Britain’s motoring agencies could soon find themselves unemployed. How redundancies are going to ease the current pressure these motoring agencies find themselves under is baffling.”
It’s understood that the government would look to the private sector to compensate for any examiner shortages and depleted test centre numbers.
An excerpt from the consultation document reads: “We will also consider how we might meet continued strong customer demand for the practical driving test, through exploring partnerships with other organisations. This might include operating from a range of different sites, or delivering some elements of the test through partners.”
However, president of the Public and Commercial Services Union’s Department for Transportation, Paul Williams, said such plans would ‘infuriate’ and cause ‘uproar’ among its members.
Shadow roads minister, Richard Burden, said: “A number of these
changes, if implemented correctly, have some merit to them. But the track record of the Conservatives has been that every time they attempt a reorganisation, there has been chaos.”
Book Theory Test Today says: “Only time will tell how much this will impact learner motorists, but one thing is certain, learner motorists should prepare for an impending upheaval.”
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