‘Meet and greet’ driving tests proposed to tackle rising test centre costs

Driving tests could start at supermarkets under a "meet and greet" system to combat the rising costs of test centres, the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) has said.

Gareth Llewellyn, the organisation’s chief executive, told MPs that examiners could soon meet candidates in locations such as shops and leisure centres.

He argued that the increasing cost of leaseholds was the "biggest challenge" facing test centres and argued that a roaming model would save learners money in licencing fees.

Mr Llewellyn told the transport select committee: "We haven’t had a fee increase for 10 years, so there’s only so far you can take the business model when costs are increasing but incomes are actually decreasing in real terms.

"One of the areas that we have considered is whether we moved in on a pilot basis to a ‘meet and greet’ system. So we might be able to meet and greet candidates in various locations that make it more convenient for them – so a supermarket or leisure centre or other places."

He argued that this would "improve the service and also reduce the cost, which then means we don’t have to put the fee of the driving licence up quite so quickly".

Huw Merriman, the Tory MP who chairs the committee, said the proposal was a "positive move", adding: "You can end up saving money, and also for the driving instructor who’s lost his car for an hour, he’s got a better environment to spend time in."

Mr Llewellyn also suggested drivers could soon receive a certificate straight to their phone immediately after they have passed their test, removing the need for the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) to issue a hard copy.

He said: "Having digitised the driving test now, when the driving examiner presses send at the end of the test the system generates whether the person’s passed or not and that information goes across the DVLA. There’s no reason why we couldn’t give an electronic version of their driving licence into their Apple wallet before they’ve left the test centre."

He said this method would mean successful candidates would not have to wait for a final copy from another agency.

Meanwhile, theory tests could become an "immersive" virtual reality experience in the near future, with Mr Llewellyn suggesting: "I think that has benefits for plenty of people beyond those that actually want to drive."

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