Driving Examiner (United Kingdom)

Driving Examiner (United Kingdom)

In the United Kingdom, Driving Examiners are civil servants employed by the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) for the purpose of conducting the practical element of driving tests. Outside the military, haulage and private bus companies who employ delegated examiners who test their own drivers, driving examiners are the only people who are authorised to conduct driving tests and issue the certificate required for obtaining a full driving licence in the UK. Driving examiners do not conduct the theory test or the hazard perception test as these take place in an office environment, supervised by administrative staff.



Driving Examiners are based in DSA Test Centres, which exist throughout the country, generally with one in every medium sized town and several in larger cities. The number of driving examiners in any given test centre will depend on the size of the test centre concerned.

Driving examiners may be full or part time, conducting anything from 35 tests a week (full time) down to 14 tests a week (the current part time minimum). Overtime is available when there is demand, which is more or less constant in all but the quietest of locations.

Not counting trainees, there are four ranks of driving examiner - Driving Examiner (DE), Senior Driving Examiner (SDE), Supervising Examiner (SE) and Assistant Chief Examiner (ACDE). A small test centre will be headed up by an SDE, with an SE in charge of several of them. A large test centre is likely to be headed up by an SE. ACDEs are in charge of regions.

There is also one Chief Examiner for the whole country, although the chief examiner is not also the head of the DSA, as there are also several layers of non-examiner management and executive staff employed there.

Vehicles Tested

All Driving Examiners start as (only) car examiners, since car tests represent by far and away the highest demand on the DSA. After twelve months as a car tester a DE may then apply to become an examiners of any other vehicle which the DE him/herself holds a full licence for, and, if accepted, will then train to test for that vehicle.

The most common additional vehicle tested for is the motorcycle, the current motorcycle test involves off road testing so candidates normally have to go to a purpose built testing centre (this is under review). The DSA tests for every vehicle that a licence can be issued for, however, so examiners exist to cover everything from the moped to the HGV.

Special Tests

Beyond what are known as the "L" tests (ordinary driving tests for any given vehicle), Driving Examiners also conduct the various special tests including the extended driving test for banned drivers to requalify, the various tests required for Approved Driving Instructors to qualify as such, and the extended test required for prospective examiners.

Recruitment, Selection and Training

The DSA recruits driving examiners by national campaign as and when it needs more.[1] The selection process is somewhat protracted.[2]

A prospective driving examiner must have held a full car licence for more than four years with no more than 3 penalty points on it at the time of application. If they are successful at the application form stage they will be asked to take an online situational judgement test, if successful here they will be invited to take the theory/hazard perception test, if successful at this stage, there is a competency based interview.[2] The theory/hazard perception test is the same as the one taken by learner car drivers except that the pass marks are much higher.

If the would-be examiner passes all of the above they will be invited to take a special driving test. The special driving test involves a drive over a specially chosen route of about 20 to 25 miles. It will usually involve both urban and rural areas and will include driving on a dual carriageway. Candidates are expected to drive at a speed consistent with the road and traffic conditions and without committing any serious faults, although not part of the 'L' test there is a requirement to use arm signals. If they pass, and if there is actually a vacant post in a location are able to work at, then only at this stage will they actually be employed, and sent on the four week training course in the DSA's training and development centre in Cardington. After that they will be given the rank of DE and assigned to a test centre.[2]

Unions and Industrial Relations

The majority of Driving Examiners belong to the Public and Commercial Services Union. Industrial relations between the union and DSA management have been quite poor over the last two years.

At present the PCS is balloting for a rejection of latest pay offer (which is below inflation), but relations are otherwise stable pending a review into the proposed working practice reforms known as Driving Safely Forward. When these reforms were first mooted last year they caused strikes and a work to rule.

Also the union has long been pressing for a mandatory requirement for cars used in driving tests to have dual controls, and stricter penalties for those who assault driving examiners. Neither of these issues have yet been resolved.

See also


  1. ^ DSA recruitment webpage.
  2. ^ a b c "Is this the job for you?" DSA Examiner recruitment advice leaflet

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