‘Vocational driving test slots going unsold’, DVSA claims

Vocational driving test appointments going unsold, DVSA claims

316 vocational driving test appointments went unsold in week commencing 13 September, DVSA has said, despite operators continuing to report that they are unable to find slots for trainee drivers that are ready for test.

The figure is revealed in an update to trainers on work being done to increase vocational licence testing availability. It is accompanied by a terse remark that “we all have a crucial role to play in helping to tackle the worldwide HGV driver shortage.” Despite use of the term HGV, DVSA and the Department for Transport recently assured the Confederation of Passenger Transport that all additional vocational test slots will be made available to each of the passenger and freight sectors.

While DVSA claims that test appointments are going unutilised, a coach operator has countered by saying that they are aware of multiple peers in the industry that remain “desperate” for tests. When combined with difficulties in obtaining vehicle test bookings and DVLA delays to driving licence applications and renewals, the service being delivered by government agencies to the road transport sector “is not acceptable,” they add.

Trade body RHA estimates that there is a shortage of up to 7,000 coach drivers, or up to 20% of the total, although it does not blame a lack of vocational testing appointments for that. Instead, Managing Director of Policy and Public Affairs Rod McKenzie recently underlined RHA’s earlier calls for the industry to be more proactive in the long term to attract new blood.

DVSA adds that between 20 September and 21 November, it has created 2,759 extra vocational test slots by stopping car and trailer tests. Those appointments are split thus:

  • 1,055 in the north of England
  • 1,052 in London and the south
  • 728 in the Midlands
  • 590 in Scotland
  • 188 in Wales.

Further additional vocational driving tests will be delivered after the existing mechanism is changed to remove the need to take separate tests to tow a trailer, and to remove off-road manoeuvres from the scope of a test conducted by a DVSA examiner.

Additionally, DVSA has advised operators or trainers that cannot find test slots to let it know via the test booking service. Users should click the ‘requests to DVSA’ tab and then choosing ‘request additional trainer booking slots’ from a drop-down menu after logging in.