A Driving Instructor's Blog

Driving Tests

Tick!Well done to HH, who passed her test yesterday with 10 driver faults. She was extremely nervous – usually much better than those 10 faults would suggest – but she held it together and got her driving licence.

The examiner was really good and acknowledged that she was nervous in the debrief at the end. On the independent driving section she went off route and the examiner had to bring her back, but she handled it all correctly.

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Tick!Well done to LR who passed this lunch time with 7 driver faults.

It's come at a good time, seeing as she is currently going through the final stages of redundancy, and being able to drive means she can expand her private business if she has to.

It's also a standing joke that she is (or was) my longest serving pupil. Initially, her mum bought her 12 hours of lessons, and she managed to eke these out for ages. She was in a low-paid job at the time, and when she got a better one things kicked off again, but then stopped as she started doing a lot of overtime.

She kept telling me that she would start again soon. She had a few more lessons, then stopped again. I remember asking her why, and she said she couldn't afford it. Then, there was this classic text exchange:

Me: What happened to all that money you were getting from overtime?

She: Shoes, shopping, handbags.

Anyway, she started up again a few months ago and this time finished it off. She admitted that she had to get the pubbing and clubbing out of her system while she was young.

And I nearly forgot: independent driving section no problem whatsoever. She asked for confirmation, apologised for doing so, and the examiner laughed and said "don't worry about it".

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Tick!Well done SLC, who passed this morning with just 4 driver faults. A very good driver, and the car was on the drive waiting for when she got home!

No issues whatsoever with the independent driving element – the kerfuffle over that has been another storm in a teacup, and exists only in the minds of desperately inadequate ADIs (or those who represent them)!

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I’ve written in the last few months about clamping at Colwick MPTC (with updates after the original clamped ADI contacted me, and after I’d seen another car clamped).

Another reader has contacted me with the following:

Hi 

I was also clamped on the 11th May and had no choice but to pay for removal of my wheel clamp – £140!!! 

I rang the police as i was clamped by an irish male in a landscaping van, who looked very suspicious and unprofessional. 

The police didn’t beleive he was ‘official’ but I had no choice to pay him. He said to appeal against it, which i have sent several e-mails to Town Park Management and not had any response.

I think it is absolutely disgusting. I have parked there for years to walk my dog and are very angry at the situation.  

Hopefully, the forthcoming ban on private clamping will stop the cowboys at City Estates (and their mercenary deputies) raking in money for their own benefit.

All that crap in their letter at the test centre – claiming it is because of “Health & Safety” – is bullshit. I was down there the other night on a lesson and there were lorries and cars parked all over the place as they used to be. City Estates is just sending out their deputies when they need a few quid, and targeting people who are less likely to be able to do something about it.


 

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Tick!Well done AG, who passed with 4 driver faults this afternoon.

She’s a great driver – it’s just a shame that the little Ford Ka her parents bought her has been declared off-road because the pirate-cum-dealer who sold it to them had apparently concealed the fact that there was so much rust underneath the axle could fall off at any moment. Chances are it will cost more to repair it than the car cost in the first place.

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There’s an update to this story about an examiner who reckons he was sacked for not failing people on purpose. The updated story is in the Sunday Mail and Daily Record (Scottish news sites), and includes an interview with Jim Kerr.

It really is clear that Mr Kerr does not have a clue how statistics work, and cannot accept the simple fact that if he is passing more people than every other examiner, then either every other examiner is doing it all wrong… or he is. This is what I suggested in the previous post on this topic.

I also suggested that there was more to Mr Kerr’s story than meets the eye. It appears this is also true:

Jim, who worked at Glasgow’s Shieldhall Test Centre, said: “I was called in last March and told that, because my pass rate was higher than my colleagues’, I must be doing things wrong – and had to fail more people.

“I was shocked. I was probably the most experienced examiner at Shieldhall and possibly the only one not to have a disagreed decision in the quality control process.”

Jim, of Newlands, Glasgow, was so affected by the situation that he signed off sick with stress.

It isn’t clear whether “last March” is March 2010, or March 2009, but the wording seems to point to it being the latter. In other words, Mr Kerr has been dismissed after being off work for a prolonged period of time. This is standard company (any company) practice – you cannot just keep paying people when it is clear they are not capable of working.

The DSA makes it clear why he wasn’t dismissed:

A DSA spokesman said: “Mr Kerr’s dismissal was in no way linked to any variation in pass rates.

“Examiners are trained to assess all tests in strict accordance with DSA guidelines; their performance is monitored to ensure they meet the high standards required of them, but they do not have quotas.

“Every test is assessed independently and on its own merits.”

From what I can see – and putting two and two together – Mr Kerr was not happy about an internal change, thought himself better than everyone around him (he virtually says this in the interview), refused to accept the amendments to the performance monitoring system or the statistical anomalies in his own performance, and went off sick (allegedly with stress, but I suspect at least partly with a strop on).

The claim that he was told to “fail more people” is his own interpretation of something he disagreed with. As I said in the previous post on this subject, I don’t doubt for a moment that some examiners fail people just to avoid getting into any sort of disciplinary trouble and maintain an artificial variance, but the DSA sure as hell doesn’t tell them to do it!

Do driving examiners fail people deliberately?

The short answer is NO. They do not. They are not told to fail people as part of any quota.

However, there are corrupt people in all walks of life, and as I’ve explained elsewhere it is possible that some examiners – a tiny percentage – fiddle their pass rates in order to avoid being “told off” by their managers.

EDIT 30/09/2010: I’m getting hits on “examiner told to fail pupils”. Mr Kerr was NOT told to fail pupils. That was his own idiotic take on being told he was not doing his job properly by passing far more people than any other examiners were doing.

Mr Kerr appears to have gone off sick after refusing to acknowledge he was not doing his job properly and that he was passing people who were not up to standard. He was off “sick” for what looks like more than a year. His employment was terminated for THAT reason.

It is also worth noting his behaviour after the event. He apparently decided to stand outside the test centre handing out his inaccurate claims in leaflet form. He was removed and threatened with arrest if he did it again. Can you imagine what it would be like for a learner going to test having some imbecile giving that sort of thing to you?

Mr Kerr’s actions clearly show that he was not the Colossus of Sense and Reason he appears to think he is.

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Tick!Well done to RT, who passed his test with 3 driver faults this morning. The examiner commented that it was “a nice drive” as he left the car – as I’ve said before, it’s nice to have that kind of feedback sometimes.

So, no more three-buses-to-get-to-Uni any more. No more getting up at 6am to get the first bus… driving sets you free!

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Tick!Like when you’re waiting for a bus, you get several turn up all at once… well done to PM for passing today with 6 driver faults. You couldn’t have cut it much finer, with going to University on 6th September!

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Tick!Well done to KH, who passed with 5 driver faults yesterday. And in stinking, lousy, horrible weather!

A bit of a lean patch recently – not so much with fails (I’ve had a couple, and with annoying “2 driver faults, 1 serious” type results), but mainly just not many tests.

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Well done to NM for passing first time with just one driver fault this afternoon. It was also great that the examiner commented ‘it was a nice drive’ to me as he got out of the car – makes you feel like you did something right.

This was cemented later on when my current problem pupil finally managed to do the reverse round a corner unaided for the first time in 29 lessons of trying! That must be equivalent to something like 150 attempts over the 2½ years she’s been learning with me (she hasn’t been taking lessons all that time, and not always every week when she is).

I had tried almost everything I could think of to stop her turning the wheel randomly in response to the kerb moving towards or away from the car. And she did the same thing again today on the first two tries:

  • kerb moves in – steer away from it
  • kerb moves in a bit more – steer away from it
  • kerb moves in a bit more – steer towards it!

I did something with some pens to demonstrate how illogical her reactions were, not thinking I’d done anything more than what I’ve done a hundred times before. When she got it right, she said:

She: You know what did it?

Me: No. What?

She: [points to pens] That!

It just goes to show that the real challenge in this job is finding the right buttons to press.

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