The government is in the process of planning the biggest set of motoring reforms since the driving test was first introduced in 1935.
A number of major changes have been tabled as part of a new consultation document, including the closing of test centres, part-privatising the practical exam, increasing the age limit for licence renewal and higher fees for motoring services.
The driving test pass rate currently stands at just under 50 per cent, and it’s believed that improving the rate is one of the main targets for ministers. Anecdotal evidence has suggested that learners are booking tests early in order to avoid having to wait for too long and are failing as a result. Due to a shortage of examiners, the wait time hit eight weeks for the first time last year – well above the government’s six week target.
More flexible driving test slots, with an increase in evening and weekend appointments, have been offered as a solution. The idea of examiners taking photos of the drivers as soon as they pass – in order to help speed up processing – has also been suggested.
Government officials believe that extra revenue could be raised by increasing non-essential services such as custom number plates, the costs of which were actually cut earlier this year but could be re-introduced.
Calls were made to raise the age for when a driver must declare themselves fit to drive from 70 to 80, as this would cut costs in administration, with the new report suggesting 75 as a potential new age.
The official report, which was published in October will coincide with the 80th anniversary of the driving test, will form the basis of next year’s strategy on the future of the DVSA (Drive and Vehicle Standards Agency).
The Department for Transport (DfT) is already believed to be conducting trials into a new driving test where learners will be required to drive independently for 20 minutes whilst following a sat-nav. It’s hoped that the new form of test will help drivers to prepare for the future of driverless cars.