Driving test examiners 'attacked' by failed candidates

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
One candidate drove "wildly" along a dual carriage way after being told to stop the car

Driving examiners are increasingly being threatened and sworn at by candidates who fail their tests, the Driving Vehicle Standards Agency says.

Officials say in 2016 there were around 240 incidents of verbal and physical abuse, compared to 180 the year before.

One examiner was told to "start running... because I'm going to mow you down" when he failed a driver.

Two-thirds of all attacks on agency staff in Britain, including roadside enforcement, were against examiners.

A trial of body cameras for some front-line staff could be extended to include driving examiners in future.

The cameras are currently being used by officials testing commercial vehicles at roadsides or authorised centres.

'Staff bullied'

The DVSA said test examiners also faced death threats while a lorry driver tried to run enforcement cars off the road.

In March, a learner from West Yorkshire was asked to stop the car after making a number of serious errors.

The candidate swore at the examiner and drove "wildly" across a dual carriageway forcing the assessor to use their dual controls to stop the car.

Another driver made a false claim against one of the DVSA's traffic officers, the agency says it was one instance of the bullying they receive.

Threats by candidates

  • An examiner being told to "start running... because I'm going to mow you down" on a busy road. They managed to hide behind a crash barrier and call for help
  • A learner who screamed profanities at an examiner and on returning to the test centre started hitting staff cars with a traffic cone causing considerable damage
  • Several examiners being effectively kidnapped by candidates who drove off in anger with them still in the car. In at least one case the police were forced to intervene to stop the vehicle
  • While an examiner was out on another test, a candidate who he had failed previously did not believe the assessor was not there and attempted to break the door down using a fire extinguisher

Source: DVSA

DVSA Chief Executive, Gareth Llewellyn, said: "I am immensely proud of my colleagues at DVSA, all of whom work incredibly hard to help you stay safe on Britain's roads. We do not tolerate anyone abusing, threatening or assaulting them.

"Our message is clear - whatever has happened, don't take it out on our staff. If you do, we'll press for the strongest possible penalties."

The agency has also promised to refer all threats and assaults to the police and to make any candidate, who is being abusive, take their next test at a different location.

The DVSA said in some extremely rare cases, driving instructors have tried to change the outcome of the test by harassing or threatening examiners. They face being taken off of the approved driving instructor register.

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