'It's like complaining to the school bully that you're being bullied!'
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4 ! n line with the rest of the staff at our company I am fed up with the administration at the DSA. The Driving
I Examining Staff undertake an extremely important job and carry it out, almost without exception, in an exemplary fashion. But to describe the administration staff as dismal would be to flatter them.
My company, in line with many others, is very much in Favour of the Commercial Motor campaign for the voluntary registration of LGV/PCV driving instructors. One of the DSA's ideas is to allow ex-RTITB instructors "grandfather's rights" to the register. We have nothing against the RTITB and in fact employ some RTITB-trained instructors. However, we believe that all instructors should be allowed on to the register and then be check-tested by DSA examiners to sort out the wheat From the chaff.
In August 1995 the DSA wrote to my company in reply to a query on staged licensing. This letter assured us that staged licensing would be going ahead on 1 July 1996. Since then we have invested heavily in rigid vehicles only to see them standing idle until 1997. Only a week before announcement of the deferment the DSA policy branch was telling us that they saw no reason why the 1 July deadline would not be met. It is a great shame that it was our cheque book that picked up the tab and not the DSA's.
We now come to a classic foul-up. It would appear from recent DSA correspondence that anyone who held a licence to drive rigids prior to April 1991 will automatically gain artic entitlement from next January. Why bother with testing at all? This isn't a "grandfather's rights" issue; this is the granting of licences to people who have never driven the vehicle they are being licensed for. Also, it is black comedy to note that one of the people behind the block booking scheme and the theory questions for the vocational drivers' written test has never driven a truck and has never been a driving examiner.
The DSA's slogan is Sole Driving for Life. They have long since had their Charter Mark withdrawn for incompetence—it's high time they also dropped this patently hypocritical slogan. On the subject of test reservations, we buy our tests and confirm our candidates by Fax for two reasons: firstly thanks to the difficulty in getting through to the DSA by phone (although this has improved greatly over the past few weeks) and the length of time of each call thanks to the queueing system; and secondly we need the faxes as hard evidence when driving examiners have incorrect candidate information on test day. For some reason most of the tests affected in this way tend to be first thing in the morning (08:30-08:45hrs). There should be administrative back-up at that time. However we have very little trouble with the Metropolitan region booking office, where mistakes are extremely rare and the availability of additional/shortnotice tests or extra programmes of tests is far superior to the unacceptable waiting times at some other centres.
I have complained bitterly about the service we get from the DSA. I have resorted to (successful) Court action when they've refused to compensate the public after letting them down. But what's the point? It's like complaining to the school bully that you're being bullied!