Few driving tests are currently going ahead as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Those emergency tests that do take place are already a little different to normal, with extra protective measures in force. Now, though, the DVSA have announced a major change: your test will end immediately when you fail.
We’ll explain how this system will look in practice and what it means for anyone taking the test. We’ll also provide some information on who is eligible to take a driving test during the current lockdown.
What’s changing with driving tests?
If you’ve ever taken a driving test before, you’ll know that you (almost) always have to complete the test in full. This means around 40 minutes of driving—even if you fail at the beginning of your test. The examiner will only end the test early for a limited number of safety reasons.
Now, the DVSA are changing this procedure. If you commit enough faults to fail, then the examiner will immediately cut your test short. This will happen if you make any serious or dangerous faults, or 16 minor faults.
This doesn’t mean that they’ll tell you straight away that you’ve failed, though. Instead, they’ll start directing you back to the test centre via the most convenient route. If this happens, you won’t have to complete any additional required parts of the test, such as the reversing manoeuvre.
Only once you’re back at the test centre will the examiner tell you your result. They’ll also explain to you that your test was cut short, but that, having already committed enough faults, you would still have failed had you continued.
The reason for this change is simple: during a driving test, you’re spending time in close proximity to your examiner. If it’s already clear that you’ve failed, then ending the test early means that you don’t need to spend any unnecessary time in the car. As such, it helps to protect both you and your examiner, and to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
What else is different about driving tests?
At the moment, driving tests are not available to the vast majority of candidates. The only tests operating are emergency tests, which are open only to key workers. You must apply for these via a specific online form, and must submit evidence of your key worker status to be granted an appointment.
The format of the driving test will, aside from the above changes, largely be the same as normal. However, the DVSA have introduced certain protective measures to help keep tests as hygienic as possible. These include:
- Requiring examiners to wear clothing covering their arms and legs, and to wear gloves during of all tests
- Ensuring that examiners wash their hands before coming into contact with the public, avoid touching their face, and do not shake hands with candidates
- Stopping accompanying drivers from sitting in on either the test or debrief
- Ending tests immediately if a candidate becomes unwell, or stopping them from going ahead if a candidate is ill before the test begins
- Not allowing candidates to touch any paperwork or digital equipment, and checking licences without touching them
- Keeping cars as well ventilated as possible
- Adding extra time between tests to allow examiners time to carry out all the necessary precautions
Who can take an emergency test?
Emergency tests are only available to those who work in certain key sectors of the economy. NHS staff and social care workers have the highest priority, and only once this demand has been addressed will the DVSA offer tests to other groups.
If you’re a key worker, and need to get your licence during the lockdown, then PassMeFast can help. Give us a call on 0333 123 4949, and we’ll arrange lessons and emergency tests for you.