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DVSA To Introduce Driving Test App For Examiners

The driving test is constantly undergoing changes and improvements to ensure learner drivers become the safest drivers they can possibly be. From the 2017 changes that brought in the pulling up on the right manoeuvre and sat nav driving, to the introduction of motorway driving to lessons, the DVSA is completely focused on increasing road safety. They’re also intent on simplifying the process of the driving test—both for learners and examiners—which is why they’re introducing a driving test app for examiners to digitally record test results.

As usual, PassMeFast is here to keep you updated on the latest driving test news. So, we’re going to take you through exactly what this app involves, why it’s beneficial for both examiners and learners, and whether you’re likely to see in action on your driving test.


Simplifying the driving test

If you’re familiar with the format of the driving test, then you know that whilst a candidate is driving, the driving test examiner will carefully monitor their progress whilst marking down their driving test faults using a feedback sheet. The DVSA is looking to modernise this approach by switching to an app that will allow examiners to digitally record driving tests instead.

Of course, as you’d expect from the DVSA, this wasn’t decided on the fly. A project was carefully carried out, led by Paul Bailey—the lead researcher—to see exactly how the app would work and whether it would ensure a smoother test process for both the examiner and learner. 

This project involved 50 in-car simulated tests that were conducted with driving examiners to see how easily they logged results whilst maintaining their focus. Researchers timed the examiners when they took their eyes off the road to mark down driving test faults using the app—compared to how long it would take them to do the same on paper. These insights were then used to “minimise the amount of time needed to mark a driving fault in a moving vehicle”. 

How it will work

Instead of a paper DL25 form—otherwise known as the mark or feedback sheet—the examiner will record the progress of a driving test on a tablet, using the driving test app. Unlike the current paper format, this new app will be used by examiners to record when they have moved onto a certain step in the driving test. If you’re familiar with the format of the test, then you know that this could range from the independent driving section to the chosen driving test manoeuvre and so on. 

Having the examiner record the steps of the driving test will undoubtedly prove to be beneficial—it will certainly help limit the possibility of a candidate passing and then failing, simply because an examiner isn’t sure whether they carried out a manoeuvre or not! Of course, this also means that learners may see their driving examiner marking things down more frequently. Bailey assures learners that “seeing the examiner using the tablet during the test does not automatically mean they’re making a fault. They might be confirming they’ve carried out the manoeuvre”. 

Why it’s beneficial for learner drivers

So you know how the driving test app will work, but how exactly will it benefit learner drivers? Well, for starters, it will make it easier when you’re signing insurance and residency declarations at the beginning of your test in  the waiting room. The signature box and text on the current paper format can be quite small for some candidates—making it hard to read and understand. With the app, however, both the text and box will be much bigger. 

More importantly, however, the app’s main intention is to help candidates actually understand their driving test faults. Research showed that “nearly all the candidates […] interviewed hadn’t read the back of their paper copy of the DL25, which sets out what the faults marked on the test mean”. It’s for this reason that some learners struggle when going in for another test. Instead of figuring out why they failed—looking at what faults they made—they go in for another attempt and end up making the same faults the next time around.

To help make it clearer for candidates to see what faults they made during the driving test, the summary report will show faults in order of severity—with dangerous and serious faults listed first. Additionally, the wording of these faults has been reviewed and improved to ensure they’re easier to understand. You can see this more clearly in the image below: 

The DVSA's driving test app debrief screenshot
Image source: GOV.UK

The electronic summary report

Once the driving test is over, the driving examiner will give the candidate a verbal debrief and also send a copy of the summary report—which lists driving test faults—to the candidate’s email address. This will be highly beneficial to candidates, as it means they no longer have to worry about losing their feedback sheet. Instead, they’ll simply be able to access it electronically whenever they’d like. 

Due to GDPR regulations, driving examiners won’t pass on a candidate’s data to their driving instructor automatically. Instead, learners will need to give permission at the beginning of the test for the examiner to send it to their instructor’s email address. Alternatively, learners can simply forward their copy to their instructor.

Learners won’t have to wait long for their summary report. It should be sent out almost immediately after the examiner has completed their form on the tablet. This means that learners will be able to review their performance with their instructor as soon as they leave the test centre.

Rolling it out

Cartoon of driving examiner

The DVSA has already begin the process of introducing the driving test app across car driving tests. It will be a gradual process, beginning with a “small number of examiners and tests”. However, the DVSA is looking to hopefully ensure the majority of car tests will be completed digitally by the end of the year.

This new method will certainly make things easier for both examiners and learner drivers. As Bailey states, it will “reduce the time needed to process test results for candidates”. Additionally, the app marks “another giant step forward in the DVSA’s vision of becoming a digitally-enabled organization”.

If you’re taking your driving test in the next few months, you might end up being a part of the introductory roll-out of the driving test app—pretty exciting!


FAQs

1. Won’t it be distracting to use an app during the driving test?

In-car simulated tests were conducted to ensure that it is both safe and time efficient for examiners to use the driving test app to mark down driving test faults and track the progress of the test. Researchers found that they were able to minimise the amount of time needed to mark faults in a moving car. Essentially, it’s no more distracting than the paper feedback sheet currently used by examiners.

2. What kind of research was conducted when creating this app?

For starters, the project team visited over 40 test centres located across the UK, attended conferences and spoke to learners and examiners involved in the “driving test experience”. They then carried out 50-in car simulated tests with examiners to see exactly how the app would work.

3. Will my driving examiner use this driving test app during my practical?

The driving test app is being introduced gradually to car driving tests, though the DVSA hopes to introduce it to the majority of car tests by the end of the year. So, if you’re taking your test in the next few months, it’s likely that your examiner might be using this very app.

4. Will I be able to access the summary sheet?

Yep! You’ll receive it almost instantly after the debrief has been given by the examiner. They will send it over to your email address and you’ll be able to read through the entire summary sheet—looking at what driving test faults you received (if any). 

5. Can my instructor receive this feedback sheet too?

Not automatically. For data protection purposes, the DVSA can’t automatically send out your summary sheet to your instructor. You’ll have to give permission at the beginning of your test—then the examiner will make sure it’s sent to both of your email addresses. Alternatively, you can simply forward the sheet to your instructor. 

6. Is there really any point to moving the feedback sheet to a digital format?

Yes! As we’ve explained, a digital format will be far more helpful for learners seeking to understand their driving test faults and learn from their mistakes. Additionally, it’s far more accessible than a paper format, as candidates will be able to enlarge the text or change the colour of the background. 

7. Will this app be used for ADI tests or other vehicle types?

The DVSA haven’t currently mentioned doing so. Their main focus is on car driving tests at the moment. Of course, logic dictates that they will likely start to look into doing the same for other test types in the near future. So, keep your eye on our blog to stay updated!

8. What email address will the summary report be sent to?

The summary report will be sent to the email address that was used in the test booking. If you give permission for the report to be sent to your instructor at the beginning of your test, it will be sent to the email address as well. Obviously, if there are issues with your address, you can mention this to the examiner at the waiting room of the test centre.

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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