Loveday Ryder

Loveday Ryder (pictured), chief executive of the DVSA, has hit back at claims that the agency needs to take urgent action to address a shortfall in HGV driving tests, which is said to be blocking industry attempts to address the driver shortage.

In April, the Logistics Skills Network (LSN) put together a plan to address a lack of DVSA examiners and asked the DfT to change its policy and allow training providers as well as transport operators to carry out driver testing.

However, in her Microlise Conference address, Ryder argued that the DVSA was "training more examiners than ever before” to take on vocational driving tests.

“The DVSA is supporting the industry with testing and increasing our capacity to provide more driving tests all around the country,” she said. “We have a batch going through training and by the end of May we’ll have provided more test examiners in the first five months of this year than we would in a whole normal year. So we’re acceleraring that to meet the increasing demand where it comes.”

Appointed in January 2021, Ryder added that another key focus this year would be technology as the agency debates ways to test autonomous vehicles.

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“We want to use our individual approval scheme to support early work to get autonomous vehicles on the road for trials," she said. "We’re working directly with UK innovators to achieve this. We want to model future compliance as technology changes, in particular as autonomous vehicles come into service, and what we’ll have to deal with.

"And we need to continue to develop a service to reflect more immediate changes to ensure the driving tests are right for the vehicles coming onto the market."

Another priority this year, she said, was improving the DVSA's digital services: “We’re working with a flexible digital platform to support our vehicle testing which will provide cleaner real-time test data and better online services for customers," she explained. "In particular, account customers will have access to an intuitive digital service so they can manage accounts online. We hope to see more of that roll out this year and are working with pilot garages.

"We're also trialling new, dedicated communication systems to detect drivers' hours offences. I’m hopeful that will make us more targeted instead of using random on-the-road checks. We also have new audit standards launching in June."