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DVSA issues critical worker training update

DVSA has responded to questions regarding the training of key/critical workers during lockdown. 

DVSA said: “The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) is working with its theory test contract provider, Pearson VUE, to respond to requests for theory tests from organisations such as ambulance authorities on behalf of frontline mobile emergency workers who require a driving licence to carry out duties in their employment role.

"The DVSA will also respond to requests for practical driving tests from organisations on behalf of frontline mobile emergency workers, who require a driving licence to carry out duties in their employment role. 

"This is a limited service subject to examiner resource and is restricted to candidates working in health and social care, and other public bodies involved in work responding to ‘threats to life’ such as the Environment Agency’s flood rescue staff, or local authority gritter truck drivers.

"The DVSA will contact NHS Trusts to explain how to nominate candidates; candidates cannot apply themselves. Applications from other organisations will be considered if the mobile emergency worker criteria is met.

“Approved driving instructors and trainers can return to work only for the purpose of supporting a mobile emergency worker with a booked test.”

DIA is working to reopen the Key Worker Register to support those who will be delivering essential training to pupils who can demonstrate a need for training at this time and have a test booked. Registrants will be required to complete our online COVID-19 course and theory test which is currently being updated, as well as provide evidence of the need to train in the form of an employer's letter confirming training is required and a copy of the test booking. More detail on the register coming shortly.

It is also important to carry a copy of your pupil’s confirmed test booking if training on the road.

Government has “no current plans” to extend theory test certificates
The government has said it has no current plans to lay legislation to extend theory test certificates.

Roads minister Baroness Vere responded to a letter from NASP asking if theory test certificates could be extended. She said: “I do appreciate the effect the current situation is having on learner drivers and approved driving instructors (ADI), but we have considered this matter carefully and our conclusion remains that extending the validity of theory test pass certificates would be an unacceptable risk to road safety.

“Those with theory test certificates expiring will have taken their test in early 2019. Since then, their lessons and practice sessions have been significantly curtailed and it is therefore likely that their knowledge base and hazard perception skills will have diminished. This will clearly have a negative impact on the road safety of new drivers, who are already disproportionality represented in casualty statistics.

“You have asked whether it would be possible for Government to enlist the help of Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) ADIs to ensure pupils have a good theoretical knowledge and sign off before allowing a candidate to take the practical test.

“As you know, the Road Traffic Act 1988 allows a full driving licence to be issued only if the person has passed both the theory and practical tests within two years of each other. It is not therefore possible to overlook the legal position and two-year validity period on the grounds that ADIs will vouch for their candidate’s knowledge and skills. Although ADIs are well-qualified and proficient in driving and instruction, they are not experienced assessors. This is evidenced by the current practical test pass rate of 47%.”

DIA wrote to DVSA earlier this month to query why moves have not yet been made by the agency to deliver the theory test completely online, both in response to the pandemic and in terms of future proofing the test in general. DIA (as a provider of driver testing itself internationally via Diamond) has pointed to advances in online security/candidate checks for digital assessments, and the increased availability of online proctoring solutions (whereby the candidate is monitored throughout the test) which has meant many forms of assessment have gone completely online, enabling candidates to take an assessment from any location, and for providers to dispense with costly physical testing centres and staffing of such.