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Dear DVSA... I'm sorry...

Posted 24 April 2021 — Anyone

I would like to make a public apology, and in doing so maybe stop you from making the same mistake…

Dear DVSA,

While I still feel somewhat like instructors are being lined up as the first line of scapegoats in a thankless and impossible fight against post-COVID test waiting lists, that we are singlehandedly facing the brunt of unhappy pupils and parents who are at best unable to get a test and at worse have to retake the theory test after certificates have expired. This apparent finger-pointing started with the statement in lockdown that ADIs collectively can’t judge test readiness, despite the practical pass-rate being similar to other countries whatever the system. In spite of this, I have to admit that in the following case I was wrong.

I, like so many of my colleagues, received a DVSA broadcast referring to ‘The top 10 reasons people fail their driving test’. I am well know for my non-test focussed beliefs when it comes to driver training. I regularly point out the difference between DVSA symptomatic assessment (The DL25 faults) and solution-based causation fixing (why was there a fault) that myself and my ADI colleagues offer. When I saw the email I rolled my eyes, preempting the increase in focus on this top 10 list as gospel as well as the problems created by it. Like those of the mythical ‘hill starts’ that breathing life into them cause people to struggle and potentially fail. Equally, I try to be goals focused wherever possible. Identifying outcomes and opportunities for learning to occur over fault identification and focus.

I mustered the strength to click the link and bolstered myself against the frustration I was going to feel.

“Top 10 reasons for failing the driving test in Great Britain”

You can use this guide with your driving instructor and supervising driver to practise these skills. You can also:
ask your driving instructor to keep a record of your driving lessons so you know how well your skills have developed in important areas
keep a record of the private driving practice you do with family or friends, so you can show it to your driving instructor

If you regularly make any of the mistakes explained in this guide during your driving lessons, you’re not ready to take and pass your driving test.

……. Ok, that looks positive…. I read on…

Not making effective observations at junctions
You must:
make effective observations before moving into a new road
make sure it is safe before proceeding

Any mistakes you make in this area will be counted under the ‘Junctions - Observations’ fault on your driving test result.

Failing to judge the speed of an approaching vehicle
When you turn either left or right from a minor road, you make observations but fail to judge the speed of the approaching vehicle. You move off, forcing the vehicle to slow significantly.

Entering a roundabout with a vehicle approaching from the right
When you approach a roundabout, there’s a vehicle approaching from the right. You still enter the roundabout, causing the vehicle approaching to slow down.

Making no effective observations at all
When you emerge from a junction, you make no effective observations at all. This causes:
a vehicle approaching from either the left or right to do an emergency stop to avoid hitting you the driving examiner using the dual controls to brake

Making no observations when joining a dual carriageway from a slip road
When you’re on a slip road to join a dual carriageway, you enter the dual carriageway without making any observations, or you do not give way to the traffic on the main carriageway.

Going straight ahead at a crossroads
When you approach a crossroads, you do not recognise that it’s a junction. You emerge and cross the crossroads without making any observations to the right or left.

Looking too late
When you emerge from a junction, you look too late (either left or right) for the observations to be effective, as you’re already partly into the next road.

Repeatedly not looking left when turning left
Throughout the test, when you turn left from a minor road into a busier road, you do not make any effective observations to the left. This means you’re unaware of any parked vehicles, obstructions or other possible hazards.

What more can we ask in such an article? Food for positive lesson content and focus. Tools to help the pupils identify their own readiness and written in reasonably clear English. Or am I missing something? If I am PLEASE comment and let us know.

When faced with constant threats for a prolonged period of time, as we have been during COVID, it is common for people to develop hypervigilance and respond instinctively to perceived threats. Ironically this perceived issue is one that affects candidates on the test! So it is easy to start making negative choices. We hope that rather than a time of threat and reactivity, we can help you in being proactive and adaptive.

Admittedly ‘The top 10 real reasons’ didn’t address:

  1. For listening to an unqualified individual's bad advice.
  2. Experiencing a negative response to external pressures including financial, time, peer pressure, personal pressures or examiners attitude.
  3. The driving attitudes of other road users, particularly towards learner drivers.
  4. Being told that they failed for the symptomatic fault recorded by the DVSA and not the causal fault that actually occurred.
  5. Self-belief, confidence and understanding.
  6. Having received poor habit-forming training that cannot be fixed in a couple of hours before the test.

but they have provided some very useful diagnostic tools to support your position. Meaning that ‘Because I say so’ isn’t the final line, the DVSA says so too.

Optimistically yours

Chris Bensted
The Driving Instructor and Trainers Collective

Do you have some 'real reasons’ to add to the list?
Or do you think Chris has missed something in his revelations?
If you haven't read the article you can find it here
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