This week the UK Government have released their new Motoring Services Strategy. We responded to the consultation that led to this strategy on behalf of our membership here:
In this we laid out the need for the Government’s motoring agencies to raise driving standards whilst simultaneously advocating steps to be taken to improve the ongoing development of learner drivers. We hoped that this would ensure minibus operators in the future have a readily available pool of qualified drivers, notwithstanding wider concerns about D1 eligibility. In this blog we have taken some of the key points of the new strategy.
What the Motoring Services Strategy Says:
The wide-ranging consultation arrives at a number of conclusions on how to improve the running of the UK Government’s motoring agencies. To recap these are:
The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) maintains registers of drivers in Great Britain (i.e. everywhere but Northern Ireland) and vehicles in the United Kingdom, and collects vehicle excise duty (VED, more commonly known as road tax) on behalf of HM Treasury;
The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) works to improve road safety in Great Britain, by setting standards for driving and motorcycling and ensuring drivers, vehicle operators and MOT garages follow roadworthiness standards;
The Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA) is the UK’s designated Vehicle Type Approval authority, ensuring vehicles, systems and component parts comply with internationally agreed safety and environmental standards.
Whilst the report advocates a number of changes that will profoundly affect the running of the agencies we believe there will be a limited impact on the running of community transport.
In the interests of community transport the major points from the paper are:
- DVSA will reform driving tests to encourage a more real-life driving experience; taking into account local variations and increased driving automation.
- DVSA will consider the development of an electronic logbook to ensure drivers are better aware of their progress.
- DVSA will develop a voluntary scheme to publish pass rates by Approved Driving Instructors.
- There will be a consultation on allowing learner drivers to drive on the motorway with an Approved Driving Instructor in a dual controlled car.
- It was suggested that the government may offer a rebate on driving tests for learners who pass first time to encourage learners to take more lessons. This response suggests this won’t be pursued and incentives to take more lessons will be further investigated.
- The DVLA have suggested that they will allocate more resources into looking at how they deal with customers who have medical issues that affect their eligibility to operate a vehicle.
- Finally, there will be further digital developments that are aimed at improving the experience of motoring service users. In our response to the initial consultation we highlighted that individuals shouldn’t be disadvantaged due to a lack of access to online facilities, something the government have acknowledged in their response.
What We’re Saying
We are pleased to see the DVSA look into making driving tests more like real-life driving experiences. Maintaining continual learning and developing skills appropriate for the road will hopefully make the roads safer. We are especially keen to see how driving tests will take into account the development of increased driving automation. Similarly, we hope that learner drivers undertaking lessons on the motorway will help further develop their road skills.
Additionally, we believe that learner drivers being aware of the skills they are developing will hopefully mean that learners ensure they take their tests when they are ready. The development of a voluntary scheme to publish pass rates by approved driving instructors should hopefully contribute to an improved experience for learner drivers.
We believe that more has to be done to encourage learner drivers to undertake continual development of their skills. In supporting CTs in the future we would like to see learner drivers given better financial incentives to undertake further formal driving qualifications. We believe this will not only help improve the employability prospects of learner drivers but also encourage a new generation of community transport volunteers and staff.
Finally, given the concerns that many members have raised with us over driver eligibility on turning 70 we are pleased to see the DVLA have invested additional resources into resolving this issue. We hope that this means some of our most valued volunteers will be able to continue supporting community transport for as long as they feel able to do so.
The measures put out in the Motoring Services Strategy illustrate the importance of the Community Transport Association taking part in consultations of this kind. Whilst there were a number of stakeholders who took part in the consultation we are incredibly pleased to see some of our thoughts around improving driving tests, better use of digital technologies, and an improved service for older drivers reflected in the new strategy.
If you have any further thoughts on the Motoring Service Strategy or want to share your own reflections on our blog you can contact James at James@ctauk.org