Should the Driving Test Be Recorded?

Should the Driving Test be Recorded?

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) are responsible for developing, structuring and maintaining the driving test. This is to ensure each test candidate can demonstrate a standard of driving that is deemed sufficiently safe before they are entitled to drive unaccompanied.

They are also responsible for the employment and training of examiners who conduct each practical driving test across all 344 test centres throughout the UK.

Between 1 January and 31 December for the year 2015, there were 1,044 complaints recorded by the DVSA against inappropriate conduct of an examiner.

Based on the fact that there were around 1,717,132 tests conducted within the same period, recorded complaints represents a tiny proportion at only 0.06%

Though speculation, the amount of driving tests that are conducted inappropriately and go unreported is likely to be significantly higher.

What is Appropriate Conduct?

A practical driving test should be conducted professionally both in terms of examination structure and attitude of the examiner. Based on snippets from a handful of dissatisfied test candidates, inappropriate attitude in particular appears to be less than ideal:

  • Examiners should not talk or point out your personal appearance….
  • She was rude, sarcastic, huffed and puffed the whole time so was very uncomfortable with her….
  • Examiner failed me for going the wrong way in my independent driving part although I was safe throughout my test….
  • Horrendous experience with an examiner that shouted at me for an infraction….
  • He didn’t go through any of my minor marks with me, no explanations or advice!….
  • Very very bad examiner, Shouting during exam, nobody got right to shouting on student….
  • He was making snide comments and was laughing at my driving I’m really upset and lost all my confidence in driving…

Are all Examiners That Bad?

To be fair, most examiners conduct each and every test to a high standard. That’s no small feat being as some test candidates shouldn’t be anywhere near the car controls. The role of a driving test examiner can be hazardous, stressful and occasionally monotonous.

And it’s often not the examiners conduct that’s in question. There’s also the test candidates that believe they’re the best, safest drivers on the planet and feel that they were unjustly failed, even though the result was entirely valid.

But what about those tests that weren’t conducted in accordance within the DVSA official procedure, or where the examiners code of conduct was not followed?

And therein lies the problem, it’s always going to be the examiners word against the test candidates with no other form of evidence to base a conclusion.

What the DVSA Says

Currently the DVSA states: You can use a camera fitted for insurance purposes, as long as it:

  • is external facing and doesn’t film the inside of the vehicle
  • doesn’t record audio from inside the vehicle

The DVSA also state: The DVSA will under no circumstances accept, comment on, or review audio or video footage provided by a test candidate or third party to facilitate a challenge to the conduct of any theory or practical test or its result.

The driving examiner won’t start the driving test if they know it’s being recorded without permission. They’ll stop the test if they become aware that it’s being recorded. The examiner will then give the candidate the chance to turn off the recording equipment. The test will be ended and the candidate will lose their test fee if the candidate can’t do this quickly or easily.

Can You Film Your Driving Test?

If the camera is internal facing, then no you are not permitted to film the driving test. If the examiner becomes aware of any internal facing filming equipment that is recording the driving test either visually or audibly and the equipment cannot be switched off or the test candidate refuses to switch it off, the driving test will not continue.

However, external facing recording is permitted during a driving test, in-car audio should also be recorded to correlate what’s happening outside the car.

Ideally it should be mandatory that each driving test was recorded by use of an audio and visual device taken into the vehicle by the examiner – a simple device stuck to the windscreen would do.

If this was the case, driving test complaints would be dealt with swiftly as evidence would be easily accessible and conclusions wouldn’t be based on one persons set of events versus another.

Also, if it was made clear to the test candidate that their driving test is to be recorded, it would help to deter any unfounded complaints, and ultimately it would encourage all examiners to conduct each test to the high standard that is expected of them.

Test candidates who are legitimately failed would also benefit. A candidates own visual and audio recording can be used to recapture events and to understand which areas need improvement.


The DVSA must adopt an open and transparent environment where test candidates and examiners are treated fairly. By allowing in-car audio and visual recording of practical driving tests, the DVSA would be providing test candidates with the tools to become better and safer drivers.

4 thoughts on “Should the Driving Test be Recorded?”

  1. Interesting article again. As an instructor with 13 years experience, I have come across ‘improper’ test conducts by examiners. Once an examiner who was ferried in from the neighbouring town to sit Saturday tests in my local DTC took my student out and spent the whole test talking about his family.
    When my student went through a stop junction, (thankfully she stopped as per her training) he congratulated her on stopping! Once back at the test centre, the examiner ushered me away from the vehicle so that he could fill in her paperwork- as he was so busy yapping about his personal affairs! My student didn’t mind as she passed her driving test, yet another pupil may not be quite so lucky!
    There definitely isn’t a seamless approach to the examiners conduct on a driving test, albeit a great proportion are what I deem fair! The assessment criteria isn’t always clear cut and lays somewhat on the bias.
    In terms of in car camera conduct; this could dispel the mis-conduct stigma attached to the ‘pupil’ when they fail their test, however when they pass wrongfully, you don’t ever hear a pupil moan! So the DVSA has received so many complaints, but how many appraisals have they ever had! Not many, although i’m sure the passed student would be!

    This may be of some use:

  2. Based on the reviews for driving test centres, a good deal of negative reviews are concerning the examiners attitude. Yes, assessing someone’s ability to drive on public roads is a serious job, but that doesn’t mean you must be intimidating and unfriendly.

    I would imagine it’s also a stressful job, with test candidates that should be nowhere near a driving test. But that can be easily remedied by making it mandatory that each test candidate must have an assessment lesson with a qualified driving instructor who signs them off as ‘safe’ for a driving test.

  3. Redwan Atwiri

    I hope this email will be taken seriously about the abuse of the examiner. At the start of my test, as I just drove a bit out of the bay I was asked to stop the car immediately. Which I was thinking about what is happening. Then the examiner said why are you driving barefoot as I explained that I have big size feet 47 and 191 tall for a small car and wearing shoes while driving makes me uncomfortable because of the reduced gap caused by wearing shoes and I have also explained that there is currently no legislation in place that requires me to wear shoes and he should be aware of that. This has caused me a lot of distress me arguing my case. Then he jumped out of the car to ask another examiner. The other examiner confirmed my case that driving without shoes is allowable as long as the driver is comfortable and not wearing flip-flops. As I was just driving out of the center while I am worried and stressed out because of this, after passing the barrier he asked me at the traffic light turn as I was turning right he asked me again about driving without shoes and if I am comfortable. I said yeah I am fine while thinking why he is asking me again and stressing me out I thought to myself we have already passed this at the center and there is no reason to be brought again while I am driving and I have told him I have been driving back home without shoes. Then I have ignored that and I continued driving as normal and safe. Then on that road, I was following the instruction from the Sat Nav. As I was driving with the speed limit of 20 miles on that road and on the side of the road there is construction so I stopped there. As I was passing the temporary traffic light. He asked me again about shoes and here I got very destructed and annoyed I drove 25 miles because of stressing me out over the SHOES and I was why. There was no other car on the road and I believe I have not caused any serious problem to myself or other drivers in the road and there was only one car far ahead of me. Therefore, telling me this is serious it is not fair nor acceptable after causing me stress overshoes.
    Driving tests are very stressful under normal conditions. Imagine I had to deal with distraction and stressing out because of barefoot driving. If I was not comfortable I would not have my test result with only one minor.
    Examiners should be aware of all legislation that was put in place by the DVSA and learners should not sit and explained this to them I was not undermining him but this is his job.
    If you look at my test result, I only have one minor. With all this, I would like to ask what happened with me taken seriously and the right measure should be in place

  4. Hello Redwan,

    Yes, there is indeed no law that prohibits any driver to operate a car barefoot. Inappropriate or hazardous shoes is one thing, but there really shouldn’t be an issue with barefoot. It wasn’t necessary for the examiner to repeatedly ask about the bare feet, it seems he had issues about it. I suppose if a complaint was made to the DVSA about it, his, or their argument might be that regardless of this conversation(s) taking place, you were in charge of the vehicle and had a duty to drive safely and within the speed limits.

    I do take your point though, some examiners do seemingly appear to intentionally antagonise test candidates, which is where I think internal and external video and internal audio recording of the driving test should be compulsory.

    You’re not obliged to talk to the examiner during the test, other than perhaps basic conversation to confirm that you understand a situation. I’d recommend that if this situation should arise next time, or something similar, you give brief replies, continue to focus on driving and not allow yourself to become stressed.

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