Customers feel they have the right to choose the timing of their driving tests. Should their instructor refuse to present them for a test, they are open to having their reputation rubbished on social media.
Meanwhile, the DVSA measures test performance data such as pass rates and the number of faults per test. Customers want to go to test too soon, and the DVSA hold ADI’s to account for low pass rates. It’s a dilemma.
Instructor associations respond to this climate of fear in the industry by offering Standards Check courses to ‘prepare for your next examination’. Seemingly there is more revenue to be had from their members preparing them for the Standards Check than preventing them from triggering the assessment in the first place.
Or perhaps, it is easier to train an ADI to pass a Standards Check than it is to train them to prevent them from triggering one.
And yet, as individual sole traders, we individually shoulder this oppressive climate alone. The feeling of self-doubt is ever increasing. ADI’s start to dread the arrival of a test date. It is rapidly getting to the point, if we are not already there, where driving instructors fear the result of a driving test more than the pupil taking it.
Pupils and their parents are thinking, “Oh well, give it a go, if you don’t pass, it doesn’t matter, just have another go”. Meanwhile, the ADI stands in the middle of these conflicting forces, sensing a tightening across the chest brought on by stress, high blood pressure, anxiety and fear. All of this does not make for confident training providers. Performance isn’t maximised in a climate of fear, nervousness, threat and bewilderment.
The industry is happy to agree that ‘raising training standards’ is in everyone’s interests. We, as instructors, should demonstrably be providing a higher standard of training than Mum or Dad does. Creating excessive fear in the minds of instructors so that a driving test pass is a guarantee compares starkly with the desires of our consumer, the person who pays all of our business bills. Our livelihood is being jeopardised, and we are being played. We are subject to increased regulatory demands when driving test provision is compromised with the excessive demand created from lockdowns. And yet, parents are free to continue presenting candidates for tests with no responsibility for safety outcomes or accountability for pass rates.
We are being played.
If this were about safety on our roads, then our regulatory body could very easily decide to tighten up the criteria for a driving test pass across the board – but they do not.
If they wanted to make a connection between driving test pass rates, driving faults committed per test and subsequent road safety, then they would make it – but they do not.
The sad consequence in all of this? The very thing that brings many instructors into the industry, our sense of wanting to develop safe drivers and facilitate personal growth in others, is being attacked. Be in no doubt, these pressures that are being exerted will be the factor that, in the end, means experienced, well-meaning, and undeniably safe driving instructors will hand their green badge in.
Our job is challenging, complex and not without pressure in normal times. But now, these latest developments in the industry will result in many honest sole traders closing down their business.
The BIG TOM franchise has the emotional wellbeing of instructor and pupil at its heart. We are not reckless with relationships as others, quite evidently, are.