Driving test waiting times are falling after a prolonged period of misery for learner drivers and their driving instructors. Why is this happening?
Senior managers at the Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) are under pressure. Government ministers are cracking the whip after a string of complaints from the public. Bringing about a fall in the number of weeks that driving test candidates have to wait for an appointment is now their number one priority. They have had to do something radical.
There are many staff within the DVSA who were once driving examiners, who now manage instead; these are still ‘Warrant card holders.’ Warrent card holders are staff who are licenced to conduct driving tests. They are now back on the shop floor with the order of conducting a minimum number of tests each week. The problem with this; however, is that there is now little or no supervision of new and inexperienced driving examiners. And examiners who need support are not now getting the help they need.
The PCS union are not happy about this. They are are currently balloting their members over strike action. The the last thing that DVSA’s highly paid and bonus-seeking directors want to happen.
Driving examiners are also being offered lucrative bonuses for working overtime and conducting extra tests. There is a monthly bonus of up to £1200 available for those willing to conduct an extra forty driving tests per month. Some might question the wisdom of this. In an environment where road safety is key, and the concentration of those responsible for that safety is paramount. How can anyone claim to still be fully alert and capable of sound decision making after so many hours on the road?
In order to lower driving test waiting times; the DVSA are putting safety and common sense aside at the expense of popularity and target hitting.
Examiners, along with other civil servants have suffered an ever-decreasing wage packet in real terms over the last 12 years or so. It is therefore no surprise that staff are leaving the job and new entrants are becoming harder to recruit. Perhaps if the government were to recognise the hard work and dedication that their staff put in with decent pay and conditions, the agency would have had sufficient numbers to have prevented this problem from occurring in the first place.