This one appeared in various forms in the newsfeeds. Right Driver is a website which aims to…
…help you learn the Highway Code quickly and effectively so you can get your learner licence.
I’m not quite sure what a “learner licence” is – in the UK, you can get a provisional licence as soon as you are old enough, and you need to learn enough about the Highway Code and driving in general to be able to pass the driving test in order to gain a full driving licence. Either Right Driver is talking about another country, or it doesn’t know what it is talking about, period.
Anyway, they apparently canvassed 1,056 ADIs asking what improvements should be made to the Highway Code. The questions asked were to do with diesel particulate filters, electric and hybrid cars, various new technologies, ABS and vehicle stability systems, trailer stability systems, crash testing ratings on new cars, child seat fixings, cost of learning to drive, standards check, any other things ADIs thought should be added. This all points to some sort of agenda.
What is amusing is that when answers are little better than 50:50 – with about half of those canvassed being in favour, and half against, they talk up the differences to make it sound like a landslide! Mind you, the best bit is at the bottom. They give examples of comments made by ADIs (and you can bet your bottom dollar that they corrected the spelling and grammar before doing so – but only up to a point).
Remember that the Highway Code is supposed to deal with the Rules of the Road, so quite why it is felt we need a whole second volume on bloody child seats is anyone’s guess. And then some jackass reckons there should be less in there about motorways. Another candidate for Clown of the Year believes that stopping distances should be reduced because modern cars can “stop quicker”. But the overriding impression from the comments is that most ADIs canvassed believe the Highway Code is the verbatim answer book for the Theory Test, e.g.:
I think there should be some question on the new laws on ‘middle lane hoggers & tailgating) should be included as it is a new law.
The dangers of quad bike riders without helmets.
Hand signals should be abolished as most drivers on the roads don’t know them anyway.
Tactile paving, full and complete description about these is required. Only has a vague description (serious lack of information) mentioned in section 10 of the introduction.
Review the wording used and simplify them – such as gradient and use the word HILL instead – – as pupils with learning difficulties cannot understand some of the question – there are several questions which use complex words which need simplifying
And it goes on, and on, and on.
The one thing that IS clear is that what I’ve said about ADIs for many years is illustrated vividly. It is almost certainly why the DVSA shies away from involving them if this is the quality of their input. The Highway Code needs editing by experts – just as it always has been. It certainly doesn’t need community input of the standard shown in this puerile survey.
As of yesterday – Monday, 7 April 2014 – both theory and practical driving tests can only be conducted in English or Welsh.
Now, there isn’t a lot of linguistic clutter in that statement, and it means just what it says: YOU CAN ONLY TAKE YOUR THEORY OR PRACTICAL TEST IN ENGLISH OR WELSH FROM 7 APRIL 2014.
Can I take my test in Punjabi after April 2014?
No! You can only take your tests in English or Welsh after 7 April 2014. You cannot have an interpreter on your practical test unless it is for British Sign Language (BSL). Read my earlier article which spells out clearly which languages are no longer supported.
(This is an actual search term used to find the blog today – 8 April. It was actually written in better English than most search terms).
This story appears on a bicycle-oriented website. I’m sure there is a word to describe what is going on here, but the nearest I can get is “obtuse”:
adj. ob·tus·er, ob·tus·est
a. Lacking quickness of perception or intellect.
b. Characterized by a lack of intelligence or sensitivity
At the moment, all those taking the side of the cyclist appear incapable of using logic and identifying the root cause of the problems which have resulted in a number of rider fatalities over the last couple of months. In this case, a survey has revealed that…
One in three drivers in a new survey have said that among issues outside their control, cyclists are the biggest risk to road safety…
This, of course, means that pro-cycling people like David Williams, the motoring correspondent of the London Evening Standard, conclude…
…[that] cycle awareness training [should] be made part of the driving test.
It reminds me of a Dilbert cartoon, where in response to his obtuse boss using similar warped logic, Dilbert says:
It looks like you’ve gained weight. Would you like me to exercise to take care of that too?
This is exactly the same. The overall problem is with the cyclists, not the drivers. In fact, this is the article where it is mentioned that cycling participation in London has trebled in the last decade, but Boris Johnson wants to at least double it again. And Williams’ naive response to this is that motorists “…will have a lot more adapting to master.”
Williams calls for cycle awareness to be made a compulsory part of the driving test. How does he think they would do this?
Cyclists are a major road hazard that virtually all learner drivers have to deal with on lessons. They KNOW that they have to give them a wide berth – often, the problem is pulling them back so they don’t end up driving into someone’s garden on the opposite side of the road! They KNOW that hitting a cyclist is bad. And there are so many cyclists out there behaving like morons that they get LOTS of practice dealing with them. No driving instructor will be teaching anything that goes against these principles. Therefore, not one learner going to test is under any sort of dangerous delusion concerning cyclists.
Of course, Williams doesn’t explain how his brilliant idea would actually be assessed on test, and I don’t suppose for a second that he has considered how many tests already involve dealing with cyclists – above and beyond the experience they get on lessons.
It’s amusing that the article also goes into detail about drivers using mobile phones and social media while driving. As you might expect from a pro-cycling website, it makes no mention of the number of cyclists who routinely engage in these things, or that there is no Law covering their behaviour.
An email alert advises that the CRB (Criminal Records Bureau) check is now known as the DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) check. Read more here.
Note that this link applies to England and Wales only – it’s a different process in Scotland and Northern Ireland (links for those are in the link above).
Note that ADIs are required to get one of these – the enhanced one – each time they renew their licence, and one is required to become a PDI.
How do I know if my DBS check is OK?
When it comes back, if it doesn’t say anything about you being wanted by Interpol or any other authority, you’re probably good to go.
It’s best if it is completely “blank” (like mine is). If there is ANYTHING in ANY of the sections – and especially if it is related to driving, drugs, violence, or children – you’ll need to check with DVSA to see if it’s a problem. It could be, and even if it isn’t, it probably should be – DVSA is dumbing down at the moment and you might get lucky even if you are still stealing cars and engaging in high-speed police pursuits (as the “pursuiee”) for a living.
You won’t find the answer on the internet, so don’t go spending any money on training until you have been accepted on to the Register.
This story in the Times came through via the newsfeeds. I’m sorry, but it is the biggest pile of manure I’ve seen in a long time.
Driving instructors are pressing for cycle awareness to become part of the practical driving test as a way of slowing a rise in collisions with cyclists.
Translated away from media-speak, this means a handful of instructors who ride bikes themselves have watched the Tour de France and the Olympics, got all excited over it, and so have decided to have their 15 minutes of fame. They’ve run a poll, and while 75% of those responding agreed that learners should be taught about cyclists, it does not mean they think there is a problem. The questions appears to have been worded in such a way that only one outcome was possible.
The real reason that the collision rate between motor vehicles and cyclists is rising is because a very high percentage of cyclists are prats who have no road sense whatsoever, and the sheer number of them out there is on the rise. They ignore cycle paths built specially for them, and practice arrogance to the highest degree. The report even provides this answer in black and white – and then ignores it:
…the number of cyclists killed or seriously injured rose by 13 per cent in the first quarter of 2012, at a time when the number of car occupants killed or seriously injured fell by 4 per cent.
It just has to be a cyclist – someone who is already a few pumps short of fully inflated in the brain department – who can write something like that and then proceed as if exactly the opposite were true.
The real problem starts with lack of cycling proficiency testing among kids, which fell out of favour decades ago. The result is that the current crop of Bradley-wannabes (dressed in blimp costumes) haven’t got a clue. Even worse, most of them don’t want one, since it doesn’t fit in with being arrogant tossers.
Speaking for the motorist, I can guarantee right now – absolutely 100% guarantee – that not one learner driver out there thinks cyclists just bounce when they get hit by a car (no matter how well padded many of them are). I can similarly guarantee that not one learner thinks it’s OK to run over one (just like with squirrels and bunny rabbits). They already get plenty of training about how not to drive into things, and cyclists are only a special case of that – different to pedestrians, for example – because they do things that pedestrians generally don’t. Most learners are so aware of this to the extent they would rather drive headlong into an oncoming bus than approach within four car widths of any cyclist we encounter on lessons. They actually have to be stopped from overdoing it in many cases.
So to suggest that learner drivers need “training” to stop them from thinking that a typical journey must play to the script of some zombie-apocalypse movie is just bloody stupid, and coming from driving instructors, it merely reinforces what I have always said: they tend not to be the brightest sparks in the fire. In fact, they’re rapidly catching up with cyclists on that front.
Cyclists should be kept off most roads (especially clearways), dissuaded from using others, and prosecuted for not using cycle lanes when there is one less than 2 metres away from them. They should pay road tax (or whatever you want to call it) and have to pass a test in order to be allowed anywhere near a road with cars on it. Cyclist advanced stop lines at traffic lights should all be torn up, since the average cyclist will wobble his or her fat arse all the way to the front anyway – whether there’s an advanced line or not – in order to hold up as many people as possible. Either that, or they’ll just skip on to the pavement via the pedestrian crossings to avoid having to stop at all.
Martin Gibbs, British Cycling’s Policy and Legal Affairs Director, said: “We want to see learner drivers educated to see cyclists as legitimate road users who have a right to be treated with respect and consideration. We are also calling for drivers to learn safe overtaking manoeuvres.”
Well, I suppose a HEAD cyclist would be expected to come out with the most stupid comment of all. What dos he think learners get taught? Dangerous overtaking? Run over cyclists?
The people who need training are the ones on two wheels. Not four.
Update #1: I’m attracting a lot of hits from a Scottish cycling website, and it’s no surprise that they aren’t particularly enamoured of this article – from what I can see, that’s because they don’t understand the issues. I tried not to use any big words or joined up writing, but we’re talking about cyclists here…
The problem is – and all those spitting feathers over this article are incapable of seeing it – a huge number of cyclists regularly engage in the following:
- no signals of any kind
- riding on the pavement when it suits them
- not using cycle lanes right next to them
- riding across pedestrian crossings to avoid red lights
- riding on to the road from the pavement without looking
- riding two or more abreast and blocking traffic
- looking behind and SEEING they’re blocking traffic – and continuing to do so
- riding on clearways and busy dual carriageways during rush hour
- riding slowly on fast roads
This is not an exhaustive list. But it is absolutely 100% accurate – the vast majority of cyclists do at least one of these things every time they go out. Many of them probably aren’t even aware they are wrong or causing inconvenience, but many know bloody well what they’re doing, and just don’t care. Both types are as bad as each other.
As I’ve said before, I used to ride with a herd of cyclists and I know exactly what they think about cars and causing hold-ups, etc.
Recently I had an email from some clown who said “cyclists have a right to be on the road”. Like all the rest, his tiny brain-like structure was incapable of understanding what this means. Let us just clarify.
Roads are primarily for cars and other motor vehicles. Cyclists and other users are allowed to use them. However, it is assumed that all road users follow their own applicable guidelines for how to behave, and to adhere to the laws and regulations which apply to everyone equally. These guidelines appear in something called The Highway Code.
I am totally opposed to anyone who abuses the rules, regulations, and guidelines. I regularly comment on bad car drivers – especially because I teach people to be good ones. I also comment on other bad road users in general, and cyclists can bleat all they want when I latch on to them – the list I gave above is highly representative of a massive proportion of bicycle riders out there.
The Spandex-clad Bradley-wannabes simply do not indicate – the only use hand signals they use of any kind are to communicate with irate drivers who can’t get past. It’s got a hundred times worse since the Tour de France and Olympics.
Remember: roads are primarily intended for motor vehicles. Being granted access to them does not make you more important than the roads’ primary users.
Those who don’t like this article are missing the point completely. But then again, if they got the point I wouldn’t be writing about them at all, would I? Still, some of the replies from people are amusing in their banality – once one person has been shocked, and said so, anyone else who says the same (and added nothing new) is just an annoying echo! The forums who see this blog and start whining are just one big, content-free echo.
The people on that Scottish site have really missed the point of this article. Their attitudes all stem from the maxim “got a bike, so I’ll do what I want”, which was one of my main underlying concerns. Absolutely nothing they’ve said suggests they believe otherwise, which proves my point entirely.
Update #2: Well, the Caledonian branch of the “I wanna be just like Bradley” association is really up in arms over this. I noticed a few hits from another source and when I tracked it back it turns out the author of the site is one of the vociferous bunch I mentioned above (from Edinburgh).
In that sense, what he is saying is not really another voice – it’s just the same voice coming from a different place (i.e. his own blog).
Sometimes, I get a pupil who I ask to turn left. They signal left, stay in the left hand lane, and… try to turn right instead. This guy (and all the other McBradley-wannabes) is just like that. He still fails completely to see the point and effectively goes off in a totally separate direction.
He calls himself a “permacyclist”, and although I’m sure that that gets a round of laughs or admiring glances at the local meets as they’re taking off their anoraks (not to mention a wiggly red line from the spellchecker), it doesn’t really have much meaning in the real world. You’re either a cyclist, or you’re not (as I’ve mentioned in passing, I am a cyclist when the fancy takes me). You don’t need any prefixes to gloss it up. Oh, and his photos reveal him to be one of the Spandex-boys, many of whom I have mentioned frequently in this blog.
In his attempts to justify his arrogant cyclists’ attitude he has concluded that I teach pupils to run over cyclists and other road users. He has concluded that all ADIs teach the same (except for his instructor, of course). You can see why I consider the majority of Bradley-wannabes as arrogant and non-too-bright, can’t you?
But he moves into very dangerous territory when he tries his hand at logic. You see, logic only works when you are objective – and simply saying that you are in your bio doesn’t make it true (especially when said blog twists everything into pro-cycling gobbledegook, and never puts the other side across). As I have said – and this is the point that they all keep missing, making the use of logic impossible for them – most cyclists DO ride poorly on the roads. They almost always DO NOT signal. They DO often nip over pedestrian crossings and pavements to avoid red lights. They DO ride THROUGH red lights (just doing it SLOWLY doesn’t make it right, guys – you’re still shooting a red). They DO ride on busy clearways when there is a cycle path running parallel to them and cause hold ups during rush hour. They DO sometimes DELIBERATELY ride several abreast when they KNOW they’re holding people up (I’ve had that from the horses’ mouths). And it goes on and on.
And virtually ALL cyclists do at least one of these things whenever they go out. Some KNOW they’re doing it. But MANY haven’t got a clue. And THAT’S why THEY need educating.
His stab at logic falters again when he argues that cyclists have driving licences, thus implying (even almost stating) that they are perfect drivers with spotless attitudes towards cyclists. This is complete rubbish – having a drivers licence doesn’t make you a good driver, and it has no effect whatsoever on your general attitude. If you decide to be a prat (and being a cyclist doesn’t automatically preclude that), or to follow the herd, then you will do it whether you have a driver’s licence or not, and whether your are in a car or on a bike. Once competence, or lack thereof, has been noted, it comes down to ATTITUDE.
He then moves his logic into the usual politically-correct territory and involves children (even posting a photo of one on his site without blurring their face in order to make a point, which is dangerous when you consider that the web is full or weirdos). No doubt his aim is to curry emotional support by bringing kids into it.
The Spandex-clad Bradley-wannabes aren’t kids. They’re “thirty-something” men (actually, since the Tour de France and Olympics, they’re any adult of any adult age). This has nothing to do with children as far as riding on busy roads and purposely causing hold-ups (or any of the other favoured pastimes) is concerned.
But since children HAVE been brought into it, it is frightening that if they are the offspring of arrogant cyclists who haven’t got a clue about road safety and their position in the pecking order when it comes to rights and responsibilities on the roads (and who wilfully ignore cycle paths, which are there for their own safety), is it any wonder that the accident rates involving cars and cyclists is increasing?
Ironically, the “under-10s” he mentions have better road sense than most Bradley-wannabes. They DON’T usually go on main roads.
Cyclists have certain responsibilities on the roads, and rules that they’re supposed to adhere to. Maybe they should try following them once in a while, instead of trying to justify their otherwise arrogant refusal to do so.
In the meantime, I’ll do what anyone who understands real logic would do – and carry on teaching my learners how to drive properly, including watching out for cyclists who may veer out without signalling, ride off pavements, ride wide or erratically, or weave through traffic on either side. That’s what ANY good driving instructor should be doing.
Update #3: Site traffic has gone through the roof again as of 9 January 2017. Another cyclists’ website has found this article (albeit five years after it was written).
I’d draw their attention to this later article also on the blog. Oh, and also that any previous email dialogue between myself and holier-than-thou forum members was not as one-sided nor as “nasty” as one party is suggesting, and that Flitwick is spelt differently to Nottingham, and – oddly enough – it also appears in a different place on most maps!
One more time: I am a cyclist myself (sometimes). I passed my cycling proficiency when I was 11. I always adhere to the rules in the Highway Code, whether in a car or on my bike. That puts me in a minority among cyclists.
They’re the ones I have issues with.
When you book your test using the DSA online booking facility, there is a box which asks for your instructor’s ADI number. On one of the forums frequented by student types, someone asked what it is.
I love this reply:
…its only asked for so your instructors pass/fail rate can be adjusted i think, but when you take your test they write it on the sheet
I wish people who don’t know the answers to questions wouldn’t keep trying to guess like this! People go away believing it.
Every ADI has an instructor number, and it is printed on their green badge. However, it is not a requirement that the green badge be displayed when someone takes their test, and many ADIs deliberately take it out so the examiner can’t record their number on the driving test report form. The radicals take it out just to be awkward, and people who want their pass rate to look artificially high (plus those who aren’t confident in their abilities as instructors) also remove it. I always leave mine in unless I am taking a pupil to test who I haven’t actually taught (and I stopped doing that years ago).
The reason the booking system asks for an ADI number is so that when pupils book their tests, the system can check against that number and prevent them booking a test at the same time as someone else’s with the same instructor. It’s potentially a good idea.
However, you (the ADI) have to register to make use of it, and a small criticism of the DSA (now, DVSA) is that although they may dream of a paperless society they are still as bureaucratic as hell. I’ve never had the inclination to follow the convoluted (last time I looked) registration process through. (Edit: this article was written in 2012, and as of 2014 is it much easier using the Business Gateway system).
Another reason for not bothering to use it for test bookings is that I simply tell pupils not to book a certain date or time, and they don’t. You can’t get simpler than that. And for 40 weeks of the year I have a maximum of one test per week. There are a few weeks where I might have up to three, but the density of test bookings isn’t sufficiently high to justify a complicated system to manage it for me.
And the last problem – which is actually the answer to the usual query when someone encounters that box when booking their tests – is that if you just leave it blank then you move on to the booking stage. You don’t need to fill it in, and if an ADI hasn’t registered it will return an error anyway. But this means that even if the instructor has registered, a pupil could leave it blank or type it in wrong (i.e. someone else’s number) and you’d still end up with a double booking.
Perhaps one day it will be a mandatory requirement, but it isn’t at the moment.
What is the ADI Number when I’m booking my test?
Explained above. Unless your instructor has specifically given you the number, just leave it blank.
I changed my instructor – should I change the ADI number I used to book my test?
You may as well leave it. The DSA will pay it no heed. All it does is stop your previous instructor automatically getting a test booking in that same time slot. It just isn’t worth the hassle.
What will happen if I used the wrong ADI number when I booked my test?
Nothing. Don’t worry about it. On the off chance the examiner mentions it, just explain what happened. It has nothing to do with your actual test.
Someone found the blog on that search term, so here’s where the MPTC at Colwick is located.
First of all, anyone else looking for a test centre can search for it on the DVSA’s website using this link. You type in your own postcode or the town you’re interested in and the nearest test centres are given.
Colwick MPTC comes up as Private Road No. 5 on the Colwick Industrial Estate, with a postcode of NG4 2JU. The Google Maps link will allow you to navigate, but here’s a snapshot of the test centre location:
The industrial estate is just off the A612 Colwick Loop Road. You can join Private Road No. 2 (which starts off as Mile End Road) either at the Colwick traffic lights or the Netherfield ones (near the big, cylindrical fuel storage tanks). The test centre is right at the end of Private Road No. 5 on the left – it’s a really grotty road, with what appear to be scrap yards all around and frequent fly-tipping.
A reader sent me this link to a story in This Is Croydon Today.
To start with, it’s yet another freedom of information (FOI) muck-raking exercise by a second-rate journalist in a third-rate newspaper (The Croydon Advertiser). It appears to be a case of monkey-see-monkey-do, as they have copied exactly what a load of other cheap local rags have done and looked to see if anyone in the area has taken a large number of tests before finally passing (they found one: 23 attempts).
In the absence of anything else worth writing about along these lines, they have then made an apparent attempt to suggest that DVSA is trying to fulfil quotas by suggesting that learners are more likely to fail at the end of the month than at the beginning. The hack responsible bases this, and all his other claims, on test results for a single 3-month period covering October-December 2010. But then they go on to say:
Pass rates at both centres were highest in the middle of the month (between the 11th and 20th) and lowest at the end (on or after the 21st), with a five per cent gap in success at the Croydon test centre, in Canterbury Road, Broad Green.
Well, excuse me a minute. If they are highest in the middle, that suggests they are lower at the beginning as well as the end. Not just the end, as the article suggests.
There are lies, damned lies, and reporters who haven’t got a clue about statistics – but who still go ahead and try to interpret them. This unnamed reporter is a prime example.
I wrote in this article (September 2010) that examiners DO NOT have quotas to fulfil. However, whether or not individual examiners set themselves quotas so they don’t deviate from the local average is another matter entirely. I’m sure some of them do it, but it doesn’t affect the overall situation that much.
As I’ve said before, if an examiner is doing their job properly then they will have a pass rate that is close to the average without having to try to fudge it. If they ARE fudging it, then the internal system the DVSA is using will eventually sniff it out because they clearly AREN’T doing their jobs properly. The way for that to happen is if people appeal when they disagree with a result.
But having said that, the reasons for failure are pretty straightforward. Yes, there are hard routes and easier ones, but pupils manage to screw up big time on the easy ones often enough, so it stands to reason they will screw up even more on the harder ones. I can honestly say I have never disagreed with a result, and only a handful of my hundreds of pupils have – and even then, I didn’t: they made a genuine mistake and failed for it.
These idiots who don’t understand statistics seem to expect the pass rate to be 100% all of the time. One single fail and they’re over it like a rash.
The only thing I would say is that some examiners play it by the book, whereas others use a bit of commonsense. So a pupil who brushes the kerb when turning left might get automatically failed by the rigid examiner, no matter how good the rest of the drive was. The sensible examiner might reason that the rest of the drive was good so he’ll overlook that particular fault.
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 explained above, it is possible that some examiners – a tiny percentage – fiddle their pass rates in order to avoid being “told off” by their managers.
Do examiners “fix” test results?
Old story from 2011. DSA is now DVSA, but the warning is still valid. Go to gov.uk and book your test there.
An email from the DSA:
Unofficial driving test booking websites: advice for customers
Directgovis the only official driving test booking website.
Other websites offer driving test booking services, but might charge extra administrative fees on top of the Driving Standards Agency’s (DSA) fee. Those websites are not run by or connected to DSA or
DSA recommends that all learner drivers book their driving test through the official booking service on
Directgovby visiting direct.gov.uk/drivingtest
If you have used an unofficial website
DSA gets complaints from customers who have used unofficial booking websites. In most cases these websites are doing nothing illegal. This means that DSA’s powers to respond may be limited.
If you have used an unofficial booking website, you might have seven working days to cancel your order and get all your money back. However, this will depend on the terms and conditions of the website you used.
You can find more information about your consumer rights on
Directgov. You can also use template letters to complain to businesses. Each letter includes details of the law that you want the trader to follow.
- Internet, mail order and telephone shopping
- Making a complaint – what to do first
- Create a complaint letter from a template
What DSA is doing about unofficial booking websites
DSA takes consumer protection very seriously. So, DSA is:
a) protecting its trademarks to make sure they are not:
- used to advertise unofficial booking sites in search engine results
- used as part of website addresses for unofficial booking websites
b) asking the Advertising Standards Authority to make sure unofficial booking websites are following the rules in the UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising, Sales Promotion and Direct Marketing
c) asking local Trading Standards to investigate those unofficial booking websites that appear to be misleading consumers
What DSA is doing to promote the official booking service
DSA makes improvements based on learner drivers’ feedback to promote the official booking service. For example DSA:
- made sure that the official
Directgovwebsite pages appear at the top of search engine results where possible
- created videos showing how to use the practical test booking service – videos are being developed for the theory test booking service too
- reminded learner drivers on Twitter and Facebook about using the official booking service on
What approved driving instructors (ADIs) can do
DSA is encouraging ADIs to remind their trainees to use the official booking service by visiting
If ADIs run their own websites they can also link to the official booking service. The best links to put on your website are:
direct.gov.uk/booktheorytest– Book an official DSA driving theory test direct.gov.uk/bookpracticaltest– Book an official DSA practical driving test
There is also a Facebook page about it.
I’ve had the proper links on here for some time on my Information Page, along with a lot of other useful stuff.
I was talking to a pupil the other day – one who had taken their theory test before coming to me – and he reckoned he’d paid £70 for his test! It costs £31 through DSA – and I charge £6.50 for a copy of Driving Test Success (DVD ROM), which is the ONLY thing you need in order to revise for the test. if you pay any more than that you’ve been had.
This is a very old story from 2010.
I caught an episode of Rip Off Britain on BBC One this morning, and it was laying into trainee driving instructors. You can watch the episode in question on
BBC iPlayer for a limited time.
At 2:00 into the programme there is a segment about the average comprehensive insurance quote being over £1,000, and then it homes in on an old couple who contacted the show about “their grandson, Josh”. They say “he’s a good boy”, so it must be the insurance companies who have it wrong, eh? Just as a reality check, my insurance is less than £300 a year on my private car, and has been for many years.
Grandad became Josh’s driving instructor (they are seen moving off and driving around without any L plates at all on display). And Grandad’s logic about how those who have never had a claim (his learner grandson) shouldn’t be penalised, when the statistics show that 17 year old males (like his learner grandson) are a major risk is seriously flawed. And keep showing said grandson on the Go-kart track racing around is just further reason why 17 year old males ARE such a risk. Attitude.
I wish old people would get it through their heads: just because he/she is YOUR grandson (or granddaughter) doesn’t mean he/she is different to anyone else’s grandson (or granddaughter). He or she is more likely to be the same as most other people of the same age group.
At 22:00 into the programme, they have a segment on “scam” theory test websites (they have a thing about scam sites, and educating older people to use the Internet wisely). I’ve mentioned these sites on this blog previously.
In a nutshell, don’t book your theory (or practical) test through anything other than the official DSA (now, DVSA) website. There’s not much more you can say – and it doesn’t matter how “unfair” it is (according to one of the interviewees). What those websites are doing is not illegal, although it is morally questionable.
The segment on trainee instructors/PDIs is at 29:56 into the programme. Apparently, 1 in 10 learner drivers in the UK is being taught by a PDI, and it costs “most people around £1,600” to learn to drive. The show then homes in on a young girl who signed up with “a well known school” (I note that her offside wing mirror was gaffer-taped on) to learn.
Her tale centres on her instructor not being professional, using his mobile phone, and not turning up sometimes. She claims she didn’t learn much and her confidence was low (as you will see, it turns out her instructor was a PDI).
Now, I don’t want to take anything away from what she says, but all those things can happen with a fully-qualified instructor. And they do happen.
The programme’s main thrust, though, is the fact that learners pay full lesson prices to train with PDIs. There is also the claim made that PDIs are told to try and conceal the “pink” badge from their pupils with one large school, at least.
It is made clear that charging full price is not against any rules or laws, and it appears that all schools who use PDIs do charge full price. The AA, who only uses qualified ADIs, claims that you’re 25% less likely to pass your driving test if you’ve been taught by a PDI. BSM reckons that pupils taught by its PDIs have a pass rate 10% above the “DSA national average”.
The young girl “reckons” that schools are responsible for letting people know they are being trained by a PDI and for charging appropriately.
What puzzles me is how much they should charge. Half price keeps being mentioned, but why? Why “half price”? If you get taught by someone who turns out to be crap just because they are a PDI, why stop at half price? Why not totally free? After all, over 70% of them won’t make it to become ADIs anyway, so they will always be substandard in the end.
At 35:20 they carry out an interview with the DIA. Basically:
- ask to see the badge of your instructor: if it’s green, he’s qualified; if it’s pink, he’s a trainee
- ask his grade: 5 or 6 is good
- there is nothing wrong with the PDI system as such
- it isn’t properly supervised. THAT’S the problem
- driving schools shouldn’t be charging the full rate for lessons with a PDI
I have my own views. I didn’t go via the PDI route, but I know a lot of people who did and who became ADIs using it. I find that a lot of ADIs change their tune once they qualify – they might do the PDI route, or use the hated Red Driving School, and yet even before the examiner’s signature has dried on their Part 3 pass certificate they’re at Red’s throat and vehemently anti-PDI or anti-anyone else wanting to become ADIs.
I have always been wary of the PDI route, because as I mentioned earlier, with only around 10% of people who set out to become ADIs making it (less than 30% of those who get to Part 3 pass that), PDIs teaching learners just doesn’t make sense. And yes, it isn’t supervised properly, so many PDIs end up using the pink badge as a way of making money and not learning – which is totally against what it is supposed to be for.
Edit: I notice this is cropping up on various forums now. Some ADIs are wetting themselves over it – but they all fail to appreciate that what the programme was trying to show (i.e. charging full price for trainee instructors) is not what they want to believe (i.e. that all PDIs are bad and any company who uses them is also bad). It’s another example of ADIs twisting every detail to fit in with their own biased opinions.
The programme didn’t specifically state that any of the learners mentioned were using BSM, but the self-styled “experts” are making all sorts of stupid claims and statements on the forums. One says:
That the first time i had seen BSM pointing out that it majority instructors are not fully qualify (sic).
I didn’t hear any of that when I watched it. Another – who apparently went down the PDI route with BSM – says:
Anyway, lets hope that the long awaited reform on pink licences is just around the corner. I guess then we will see the demise of B$M.
They’re on a different planet! And they call themselves “experts”.