December Driving Examiner Strike

Cartoon of driving examiner

Driving examiners in the UK are planning a 48-hour strike on December 4th and 5th. This strike action could see up to 2,000 examiners walk out in protest. With a large 84% of examiners in the Public and Commercial Service (PCS) union voting in favour of the strike, there’s the possibility of thousands of practical tests being cancelled as a result.

If you’ve been keeping track of our blog, you’ll notice that the strike coincides with the December test changes—something that lies at the forefront of this strike. This action will, of course, have repercussions for many learner drivers.

Find out exactly why the strike is happening, how it might affect you and whether you should be worried…

What if my driving test is cancelled?

We’re all too aware of the difficulties involved in long driving test waiting times. It can be a nightmare trying to find the perfect test date, which is why it’s all the more annoying when a test is cancelled last minute. So, what can you do if your test is cancelled due to the strike?

You could try to change your test date so that it doesn’t coincide with the strike. However, you might have difficulty getting another one so soon. Alternatively, you could test your luck and show up to your test as planned. The examiner might not show up however. Fortunately, you don’t have to bother trying to re-book your test. The DVSA will contact you within 5 to 10 working days to give you a new test appointment. If you’re not happy with your new test appointment, you could always opt for a PassMeFast fast-track practical test.

You should be aware that not all examiners will be on strike—some aren’t union members and others might not want to take part.

Why is the driving examiner strike happening?

Learner driver and an examiner in the car
Photo © Land Rover MENA (cc-by-sa/2.0)

It all boils down to the upcoming test changes. The DVLA is looking to introduce a “flexible” working regime to test centres. Examiners will be expected to travel to different test centres to meet high demand, on top of their own working hours. This means longer hours with no additional pay. New requirements could also see examiners carrying out seven tests per day—with a running time of one hour and two minutes each. The PCS says that it should be limited to six tests a day instead.

In response to this, the PCS has said that its members will work to rule from November 3rd. Examiners will stay at work to do what is stated in their contracts, with a ban on overtime. They will then hold their 48-hour strike in December. Consequently, the PCS warns that instructors and learners could see last-minute cancellations across the UK.

Mark Serwotka, PCS general secretary, has said that the “detrimental changes” are being forced onto examiners with the new test. They question the safety of the new test, stating that “incidents occurred on driving lessons which have been conducted to the new testing arrangements”. As such, the PCS have “voted overwhelmingly to demonstrate that these changes are unacceptable”.

The test changes have divided opinion amongst instructors as well as examiners, with the manoeuvre changes being particularly controversial. Check out what our instructors think about the driving test changes.

What can be done about it?

Mark Serwotka believes that “ministers can avoid this strike action by instructing their officials in the DVSA to scrap the plans and re-enter serious negotiations with PCS”. He has also stated that “if this strike goes ahead the blame lies squarely with the government”.

DVSA chief executive Gareth Llewellyn countered this by saying that the PCS is “trying to undermine the launch of the new test”. Additionally, the strike shows a “shameful disregard for both road safety and learner drivers who have worked so hard”. He has also denied the claims that the new test is unsafe, citing that it will “better assess a driver’s ability to drive safely and independently”.

One thing’s for sure—the conflict between examiners and the DVSA has been a long running issue that probably won’t go away anytime soon.

Should I be worried?

Road trip

With all of the turmoil surrounding the driving examiner strike, we understand why you might be worried. As we’ve said, however, it’s simple enough to deal with the issue of test cancellations. Yes, it’s an annoyance. But in the grand scheme of things, it’s mostly just an inconvenience. As for the test changes, you really don’t have much to worry about—as you’ll see below…

simple green tick The independent driving section is set to double—increasing from 10 minutes to 20.
simple green tick Manoeuvres like the three-point turn are to be scrapped in favour of pulling up on the right.
simple green tick Drivers will be expected to answer one of the show me, tell me questions while driving.
simple green tick Students will be expected to follow a sat nav instead of road signs.

Before you start panicking, relax. These changes actually work in your favour. Most drivers end up using sat navs at some point. Learning how to use them during driving lessons can therefore be essential and valuable. As for the pulling up on the right manoeuvre, learner drivers should know how to do it in case they end up in a situation in which they can’t pull up on the left. Still not convinced? Read on about the expected new driving test pass rate.

Taking your test in Salford? You might struggle due to the Salford test centre closure, but don’t worry—there are plenty of other Greater Manchester test centres you can go to!

Not had the chance to pass your test yet? Get passed with PassMeFast—book a course online or give us a call on 0333 123 4949 to get started…

By Bethany Hall

Whether you’re a learner or a pro driver, Bethany is here to help. From defensive driving to the Highway Code, she’ll tell you everything you need know about driving. If she’s not on the road, you’ll probably find Bethany with her head in a book or binge-watching the latest TV show.

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