BIG TOM Franchise Overview
4th July 2023
Reflections of a driving instructor Pt 2 Ep 1 The Dream
5th August 2023

Reflections of a driving instructor Part 2 Introduction


Reflections of a driving instructor – Part 2 




A very warm welcome to readers or if you prefer, audio listeners, for this update to my original ebook on “Reflections of a driving instructor” that I created in January of 2017.  

Much has changed in our industry, the DVSA proudly state in their “DVSA’s Vision to 2030” publication that since 2017 12,000,000 theory tests have been carried out, 9,400,000 driving tests carried out and 37,500 standards checks completed. It also mentions that “We must reduce the number of people killed and injured on Great Britain’s roads. Between 2017 and 2020, an average of 1,697 people were killed on our roads each year. And a further 148,385 are either seriously or slightly injured each year.” Mention is made of zero-emision vehicles, targets for self-drive capabilities by 2025, and targets for battery electric vehicles and charge points by 2030. 

There are plenty of communications provided by the DVSA in these times. If I take just a snap shot of what has recently been published for public viewing it includes: 

Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency business plan 2022-2023 

DVSA’s vision to 2030 

Annual Review 2022-2023 

Policy Paper for DVSA strategic plan to 2025 

Annual Report and Accounts 2022-2023 

Reported Road Casualties Great Britain: Provisional Results 2022 


Announced within these for 2022 is a 3% decrease in fatalities in reported road collisions compared to the year ending June 2019, and the same % decrease compared to 2012. Adding, a 3% decrease in reported killed or seriously injured casualties compared to year ending June 2019, and 15% decrease compared to 2012. Thirdly, an 11% decrease in reported casualties of all severities compared to year ending June 2019, a 31% decrease compared to 2012. However, in the interests of balance, the following warning is given: 

“Road traffic figures for 2022 were not available for this release, so casualty rates have not been produced. Casualty rates will be available as part of the final annual road casualty statistics in September 2023.” 

It would seem at least possible that with many of the working public choosing to continue working from home post-lockdowns, that there has been a statistically significant reduction in the volume of traffic on the roads. This fact might also go some way to explain why there is no mention of road safety % reduction targets for the future within the 240 pages of data that these publications present. 

Specifically for driving instructors, there has also been a large amount of communication coming from our regulator about aspects of our work, these include (but are not limited to) the following: 

The cause of long driving test waiting times – Loveday Ryder (July 2023) 

Variety of notices for potential examiner strike action 

DfT theory and practical test pass rates 

Trials for providing driving tests in alternative locations than driving test centres (Feb 2023) 

Driving examiners wearing body worn camera (Jan 2023) 

Plans for increasing the Standards Check pass mark from 31 to 33 (March 2023) 

Improving driving test availability and processes: consultation outcome (March 2023) 

Zero fault driving tests and Top 10 fault data – 2007-2023 (July 2023) 

Daily domestic transport use by mode (June 2023) 

Changes to some of the test information program parameters (May 2023) 


As a consequence of the high volume of communication that ADI’s are exposed to from the regulator, I created an “ADI Union Forum” in June 2022 which enables ADI’s to keep abreast of all relevant communications in one convenient place, which can be easily accessed by searching for ADI Union Forum within the search engine. 


Perhaps one of the most significant regulatory changes that has a direct impact on the life of a driving instructor in the UK is the introduction of driving test data monitoring. Fixed metrics of the test data were announced by the DVSA (without any consultation with the associations or register of ADI’s) as being monitored (including backdating to the previous 12 months), and should any ADI’s fall outside of the targets (TIP parameters), they would be subject to a recall for a Standards Check. This was introduced in an effort to “raise standards” and in an attempt to reduce the demand for driving tests. This initiative has now been in place for 2 years (initiated August 2021) and to my knowledge, no formal review has been conducted on the success or otherwise of this campaign (not at the time of writing in any case). 

If I firstly consider the goal of reducing the number of driving tests, then it can be seen from the following DfT data that the annual figures have not altered greatly over the last 8 years. 

 According to DRT1101, it gives the following statistics for conducted driving tests (3 monthly figures): Jan-Mar in the year of 2014-2015 407,904, and same quarter in the year of 2016-2017 478,061, and same quarter in the year of 2021-2022 425,887. And the number of conducted driving tests nationally for the same quarter in 2022-2023 was 446,907. So given the fact that in the same quarter for year 2016-2017 there were 31,154 more driving tests conducted in that period compared to the same quarter in this year, then it would appear that the DVSA has been successful in reducing the demand for driving tests. But in the same way, one could also state that in the same quarter this year, there were 39,003 more tests conducted than in the 2014-2015 year. It is difficult to conclude one way or the other whether the amount of driving tests being conducted now has any significant difference in terms of a trend compared to other years. 

Another factor that is very much relevant to reducing the demand of driving tests by raising the pass rate thereby reducing the necessity for booking subsequent attempts, is the Ready To Pass? Campaign that the DVSA launched in an attempt to help instructors, pupils and parents/carers to make better decisions about the timing of taking a driving test. Again, according to their latest figures for Jan – Mar 2023 this is also not having a noticeable effect – the theory pass rate being 44.9% and the practical pass rate being 48.1%. Historically, neither of these are showing any sign of improvement.  

Speaking of pass rates, let me now move on to the goal of raising standards. This is a difficult one to come to terms with, at least it is for me, because the term is rather subjective and while it is unquestionably a goal to ‘raise standards’, what standards in particular is the regulator attempting to raise? For example, if it were the case that a significant increase in driving tests had occurred of late, then one might start to wonder if the public were acting against the objectives of the DVSA and ignoring professional advice by going to test in their own cars. This is not as unrealistic as it might at first sound. Bearing in mind that driving instructors are now held to account for what happens on a driving test, it is not inconceivable that pupils might disagree with their instructor as to what standard of driving is required before making an attempt at a test. But because of the data given above, it would appear there is no significant increase in tests conducted, but how many tests are being conducted in private cars versus those in driving school cars?  

It is generally perceived in the industry that the number of driving test presentations in private cars has increased since the introduction of TIP Parameters – anecdotal for sure, but I have had this mentioned to me by DVSA staff as well as from other ADI’s – it is pretty easy to notice when non-driving school cars arrive at test centres for driving tests.  I submitted a FOI request with the DVSA asking what the figures are for presentations in private cars versus driving school cars, the data period covered between June 2021 – March 2022. Interestingly although there was no marked difference in the quantity of presentations in driving school cars over that period, private vehicle presentations started off in June 2021 at 30,529 and increased to 35,271 by March 2022 with a corresponding reduction in the pass rate of 5.9% [For full details of this FOI request subscribe to the ADI Union Forum]. On that evidence alone, it would seem that there can be a relationship between driving test pass rates and the type of vehicle being presented for test. 

There would appear to be a trio of factors to take into account when it comes to driving test pass rates: the performance of the pupil, whether the test is being undertaken with the authority of the driving instructor or not, and the performance of the instructor. So let’s pay some attention to this third one. It might be said that the ability of the driving instructor has an effect on the driving test pass rates. And if that was true, you might expect to see a correlation of ADI’s who get recalled for a Standards Check and what grade instructor they are. For any listeners who are unaware, the DVSA performs an assessment on driving instructors by observing a typical driving lesson from the rear seat of the vehicle. I say typical with some element of hesitation because as is often the case in these kinds of assessments whether it be in a classroom, a restaurant, a Care Home or a driving school car – there is inevitably an amount of “performance” from the people who are being assessed that one could suspect is far from ‘typical’. The resultant grade of either A or B is supposed to indicate to the public how good the driving instructor is, A being better than B; that is how the theory goes. So given the fact that grade A ADI’s are ‘better’ than grade B instructors, one might assume that there would be evidence of more grade B instructors being recalled for standards checks having failed the TIP Parameters. So I submitted a FOI request in October 2022, asking if there was any evidence of this. The period being covered in the data was August 2021 – September 2022. The percentage of Grade A ADI’s recalled per month in that period ranged from 0% – 1.18% and the percentage of Grade B ADI’s recalled per month in that period ranged from 0% – 1.49% [again, full details of this submission can be found by subscribing to the ADI Union Forum]. It is difficult to decide precisely how to interpret this information. One might say that the difference in recall between Grade A and B instructors is so small that it raises a further question about the validity or worth of the Standards Check assessment. But it certainly dispels the myth, if one even existed, that Grade A ADI’s are at any significant advantage when it comes to avoiding a recall. 


I hope I have provided here an introduction that creates some context for the following reflections that I will offer. I would encourage you, if you have not already done so to read the first part of my reflections from January 2017, you can access it via Amazon here: The reason why I recommend reading that first, is because there will be a good deal of useful information in that first publication that I do not intend to repeat here. When I say ‘useful information’, I really do mean that I would very much have benefitted from having that knowledge prior to even starting to train to become a driving instructor. I stand by what is mentioned in that ebook, and everything that is offered in the following episodes is given in good faith, clearly without charge and with no obligation on your part. I offer it to you, in the hope that it will benefit you.