Posted by: Carl Surgey | 29 January 2021

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. 

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