Driving test examiners could be given body cameras following a spate of attacks by failed candidates.
More than 300 staff from the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) suffered physical or verbal abuse in 2016, up from 198 the previous year, according to the government agency. Around two-thirds of attacks were carried out on examiners, the rest being aimed at vehicle testers and roadside enforcement staff.
The DVSA is now trialling body cameras for frontline staff. They will initially be given to roadside workers, but could be rolled out to include driving test examiners if they prove effective, the agency said. Cameras are already used by many police forces to record officers’ interactions with the public.
The DVSA also pledged to make abusive learner drivers take their next test elsewhere and to refer all incidents of threats and physical assault to the police.
In one case, a candidate who was asked to stop the car after committing serious errors swore at the examiner and drove wildly across a dual carriageway. The examiner had to use the dual controls to stop the vehicle safely. The culprit was banned from that test centre and will be supervised during any future tests.
DVSA chief executive Gareth Llewellyn said: “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.”
RAC road safety spokesman Pete Williams said: “Examiners at the DVSA play a vital role in ensuring the safety of drivers and vehicles on our roads on a daily basis. It’s therefore disappointing to see such a marked increase in the verbal and physical abuse they are encountering from the very people they are trying to help.”