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A day in the life of a driving examiner

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be a driving examiner? Ever pondered about what type of pressures they might face, or how stressed-out candidates might treat them? The staff at TTA hadn’t really given it a great deal of thought, as we quite reasonably thought that they would automatically be treated with respect. But after reading a recent blog post shared by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), we have had to think again.

TTA is one of the North West’s leading logistics training organisations, and prides itself not just on respect for the road, but also respect for all other road users, driving examiners included: so naturally we were shocked by what we read. The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency has asked us and other logistics organisations to share this post as part of its ‘zero-tolerance’ approach to the abuse of its staff, and we are happy to do so. TTA is sure you’ll be just as shocked as we were when you read this anonymous account of how some people treat driving examiners.

What it’s like being assaulted and threatened when you’re a driving examiner?

‘During a normal working week, and what seemed like an average day, as usual I took a candidate out on a driving test.

We began the independent driving section of a test, which involved following signs. The candidate was required to turn right, third exit.’

‘He approached the roundabout in the left lane, and as we emerged he said to me “I don’t know where the f**k I’m going”.

I told him that we were turning right, third exit, repeating the sign that he was following, but told him to do what he thought best. He did turn right, from the left lane.’

‘We came up to the next roundabout, which was also a large roundabout, with large directional signs. Once again he positioned on the left, for a right turn. As we emerged on to the roundabout he said “I don’t know where the f***k I’m going you f*****g b***h, you’re supposed to give me directions”

‘I repeated to him that we were turning right, third exit, and to follow the signs. At this point, he accelerated harshly to join a dual carriageway.

“I’ll show you who’s the clever one”

He began erratically steering from the left to the right saying, “You think you’re so f*****g clever, I’ll show you who’s the clever one.”

He steered across the solid hatching, directly into the first lane of a busy 3-lane dual carriageway. It caused the car in that lane to swerve sharply to the right to avoid us.’

He then resumed the erratic steering, swerving across all 3 lanes of dual carriageway, screaming at me “Not so f*****g clever now, are you?”.

‘As our vehicle was dual controlled I waited until we were in lane one, and used the dual brake and pulled the car over.

I got out of the car, and he screamed at me, “You better start running then b***h, because I’m going to mow you down”.

I told him that if he moved the car that I’d phone the police.’

‘Luckily, near where we had stopped there was a bridge which had a crash barrier in front of it. I stood behind that and rang my test centre manager, who came out and got me.’

How it affected me

‘My manager took my next test out for me, to give me some time and I filled in an incident report. The candidate also received a letter to tell him that his behaviour had been unacceptable.

I later learned that he had written to complain that I had scared him by leaving him on the dual carriageway. I remained entirely professional, staying calm throughout the test, and I didn’t even raise my voice during the incident.’

I’d been an examiner for about 8 years at that time, but this was the first time that anything like this had ever happened to me, and it really shook me up. For 2 weeks after I felt really uncomfortable when we approached dual carriageways, and for a good 6 months I didn’t feel the same about the job.’

‘Don’t take it out on our staff’

That’s the unequivocal message from the DVSA. Following an increase in the number of incidents of this nature, it is now working with the police and other organisations to make sure the full extent of the law is used when its staff are assaulted or abused at work. As a result of the changes the DVSA has now introduced, abusive candidates may be banned from test centres, be forced to have an extra member of staff in the car on tests or may have charges brought against them for criminal prosecution.

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