Thousands of test cancelled as driving instructors go on strike 0

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December 4 saw thousands of driving tests cancelled across the UK as instructors staged a 48 hour strike.

The strike was a protest by driving instructors at changes made to their working practises, with the introduction of new criteria to the current driving test. One of the new parts of the test sees candidates being made to pull up on the right hand side of the road then reverse – a maneuver examiners have previously considered illegal and against the Highway Code.

Another of the new changes sees candidates having to use a sat nav to navigate their way round the course. The duration of the independent driving section has also been increased from ten minutes to twenty. Maneuvers like reversing round a corner have been replaced by situations drivers are more likely to face in real life, such as bay parking.

Vehicle safety questions will be posed to the candidate once the test has started. These may include how to operate the windscreen wipers.

Driving examiners who are members of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) voted to walk out for 48 hours on the 4 December – the day the new rules were introduced. This saw thousands of tests cancelled across the country.

Examiners voted 84% in favour of the strike, saying the new rules were dangerous and contravened the Highway Code. Officials said striking members would refuse overtime and work to rule once once the strike was over.

PCS general secretary, Mark Serwotka, said: union members consider the changes “unacceptable”. He added at the time plans to strike were announced: “Ministers can avoid this strike action by instructing their officials in the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency to scrap the plans and re-enter serious negotiations with PCS.”

Responding to news of the strike the DVSA’s chief executive, Gareth Llewellyn, said: “The fact PCS is trying to undermine the launch of the new test by calling for strike action shows a shameful disregard for both road safety and learner drivers.” Mr Llewellyn added the new driving test had been designed to help new drivers through a “lifetime of safe driving” and the changes had been “welcomed by most examiners, road safety experts, disability groups and instructors”.

Mr Llewellyn also gave details of the DVSA’s negotiations with the PCS union, saying: “I met with PCS on 2nd November and they turned down my offer of mediation, although our offer still stands. This means that we cannot move forward together to resolve this dispute, for the sake of our staff and customers.

Mr Llewellyn added: “Making sure the driving test better assesses a driver’s ability to drive safely and independently is part of our strategy to help you stay safe on Britain’s roads.

“It’s vital that the driving test keeps up to date with new vehicle technology and the areas where new drivers face the greatest risk once they’ve passed their test.”

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