It has been a little while now since the DVSA gave new guidelines on how driving instructors will be called for a standards check. The dust is beginning to settle and hopefully driving instructors can see how this can really help them.
I wrote in a previous article about how I used to keep all my test statistics and faults almost 20 years ago to see where I had weaknesses in my own tuition. That spreadsheet is now available free of charge to help any driving instructor who wants to look at their own figures.
A driving instructor came to me recently with their own report they had received from the DVSA. They asked me to look at it to see what I thought.
This test report covered the instructor’s last 23 driving tests. Of course, due to the pandemic there was a reduced number of driving tests over this period, so the number of driving tests completed were lower than previous years. However, the statistics showed that of the 23 driving tests, 9 were passes. This gave a 39.13% pass rate. The report also gave an average driving fault record of 3.83 per driving test and an average 0.65 serious faults. Furthermore, the examiner took physical action on 4 of these tests.
Let’s compare this with the DVSA’s new standards check indicators:
|Average number of driving faults per test||5 or greater|
|Average number of serious faults per test||0.5 or greater|
|% of driving tests where the driving examiner had to take physical action||10% or higher|
|Driving test pass rate||55% or lower|
- For the first indicator (average number of driving faults per test) , this ADI scored 3.83, so lower than the 5 or greater for a trigger. No trigger for this.
- For the second indicator (average number of serious faults per test), this ADI scored 0.64. This is greater than the 0.5 so will be the first trigger. 💥
- For the third indicator, (% of driving test where the examiner took physical action), this ADI scored 4 or 17.4%, higher than the 10% limit, so this will raise another trigger. 💥
- And the last indicator, the overall driving test pass rate was 39.13% so again less than the 55% so this will be the third trigger. 💥
According to the DVSA, if three of the four indicators are triggered over a 12-month period, a standards check can be initiated.
This ADI, who is a good ADI has recently had a run of eight fails on the run. And this is a story that is ringing out over and over again on the usual Facebook groups. The chances of these eight all failing when presented for a test is slim. Even if only four of them pass next time, it will make a huge difference to the figures. Over a year the figures should balance out.
Above: Recently an ADI sent me their Test Data Report to have a look at
However, looking at the sheet for recorded fault types, a few things jump out at me. While there are many fault groups with zero scores against them, there are three with high numbers: 11,12 and 19. There are a few 5s, 4s and 3s but my advice would be to start looking at the high numbers.
But why do I say that the instructor needs to look at this? Well, as the driving instructor, this is your sheet and as such every instructor needs to take responsibility for this. I know a lot of ADIs blame test nerves on the day for their pupils failing, but nerves would not cause high numbers in just a few fault groups. Nerves would mean pupils making random faults across all the fault groups – and assuming every ADI has nervous pupils, would not be an explanation for an above-average fault count.
So, my advice to this instructor was to start looking at these high-number faults and find out what is wrong.
Let’s look at this in more detail.
This ADI received 19 driver faults in the group ‘maintaining progress’. This alone represents 23% of this ADI’s driving faults. Nearly a quarter. Speaking with the ADI they explained that often pupils’ parents interfere here telling them to go slower and stay well below the speed limit.
So, here’s an easy fix. One that needs the instructor to coach the pupil into why they need to maintain progress and perhaps how mum and dad could interfere. This was something I experienced many years ago. I would often look for opportunities to speak with the parents and gain common ground. “Back in our day the test was easy, no traffic lights and no roundabouts, and the fastest we went was 30mph,” I would explain. I’d go on to ask them how they felt when stuck behind a slow driver, what emotions would they feel and what risks would they take? Sometimes this was a conversation with the pupil too. It’s a very fixable fault and whilst you might not clear every single one of the 23%, you can reduce this by a big chunk.
The next area that surprised me was the ‘Moving off’ section, with 4 faults under safely and 8 for control. Nearly another 15% of the total driving faults fell under this section for this ADI. Now without sitting in the vehicle with the ADI, it’s difficult to ascertain what these faults are for.
There are a group of people who do know mind you, the examiners. Never be afraid to ask the examiners for advice, in fact I would go so far to say that talking with them will help your case. After a test fail, when you see these faults crop up, ask the examiner (out of ear shot of the pupil). This is exactly what I did many years ago when I saw gear faults creeping in a lot. Apparently, they felt my pupils were changing up too soon. So, I started to get my pupils to change up later. My faults in this area almost disappeared.
These control faults can be attributed to nerves, but I’m certain that we could all see a way to work on this area to make sure improvements are seen.
Try to bust the big numbers
It can be tempting to go after the smaller faults and focus your energy on trying to get them down to 0. But lowering the biggest percentage of driver faults will give you more of a chance of staying under the standards check trigger point.
The other big number for this ADI was 11, with 9 for steering control. I could only guess at why this is a frequent fault, but the ADI in question can now observe this and look as to why it is a problem. They could ask an examiner when it crops up again too.
The best thing here is the ADI now has a written report showing exactly where their weakness are and is now willing and able to do something about this. Overall, this will bring the total faults down while improving the overall pass rate and in turn will help bring down driving test waiting times because fewer pupils will need re-tests.
Above: It’s a great idea to request your report to see where the majority of your faults are coming from.
Before this report, the driving instructor had no real reason to know where the big numbers were. Most driving instructors are only interested in the bottom line, a pass or a fail but there are easy ways to get better pass rates.
Get your report and look at it. You can request it by emailing DVSA at firstname.lastname@example.org. You need to include your:
- ADI personal reference number (PRN)
- date of birth
Remember, don’t blame pupils instantly, see where the big numbers are and work on them. Then you’ll be able to work on the smaller numbers and watch your test passes rise. It really is all about taking ownership of your figures.
Finally, a quick note to say thank you to the ADI who kindly gave me permission to use the test data report for this article.
PS. Don’t forget you can download the free copy of the test fault analysis spreadsheet by clicking here. Alternatively, you can get the premium version of the spreadsheet that includes some (very complex) equations to only count your last 12 months of test data, letting you get ahead of the DVSA with real-time statistics.
Dave Foster MA, Dip.DI (or Driving School Dave) is the most qualified driving school owner in the country, after completing his Master’s Degree in Driver Training Education in 2011 at Middlesex University. He also holds a diploma in Driving Instruction and is a Cert Ed. qualified teacher. Dave is the founder and Managing Director of 1st 4 Driving Ltd, and also looks after over 15 driving schools across the country on a consultancy basis.