DVSA to stop official taxi driving tests

Official driving tests for taxi drivers are set to be scrapped under plans to help decrease the waiting times for learner drivers, The Times reports.

The Driving and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) has said that learner drivers are being forced to wait for as long as four months to sit their test. To cope with this increased demand, DVSA taxi driver examiners are being reassigned.

Around 200 local councils currently require taxi drivers to sit a specific test, with the DVSA providing around 23,000 of these tests a year. Councils will now be asked to source these elsewhere -- such as independent driving schools.

Gary Rae, campaigns director for road safety charity Brake, commented:

"This looks like a cost-saving measure, which gives us real cause for concern. It's vital that there is a statutory body which oversees taxi driving tests."

The DVSA stated: "We are committed to reducing waiting times for car practical driving tests. To help us to reduce these we've reviewed all our services and from 31 December 2016 we are stopping taxi driver assessments.

"There will be no impact on road safety and we have contacted councils to suggest alternative providers, such as road safety charities or representative bodies of driving instructors."

This isn't the first major change for taxi drivers in recent weeks. The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has announced plans to introduce 100 extra taxi ranks in the next four years, The Telegraph reports.

In addition to this, diesel taxis will be banned from London from 2018 in a bid to tackle pollution, with £65 million in grants being made available to incentivise cab drivers to replace older cars.

Black cabs will also be allowed to use 20 additional priority lanes which are currently only available to buses.

Although black cabs have long been a part of the fabric of London's culture, the new measures to help boost trade for London taxi drivers highlights the increased competition from companies such as Uber.

Uber, which lets customers use an app to book a taxi, is different from traditional black cabs because it is a private business and drivers can use their own cars.

Although there are several other private taxi firms such as Addison Lee, these companies have not been considered to pose a threat to black cabs in the way that Uber has.

The Mayor commented that he wants to protect "the future of our iconic black cabs that provide a unique and invaluable service for Londoners".

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