Learner driver fails test over pencil rubber shavings on car floor

“Overly picky” examiners accused of refusing to carry out multiple tests over minor cleanliness issues

Driving examiners have been accused of unfairly failing learners over “dirty” cars after one candidate was refused a test because of pencil rubber shavings on the car floor.

The 17-year-old from St Michael’s in Lancashire was told by her examiner that they would not conduct the test because the car didn’t meet Covid-safe cleanliness standards. However, the learner’s father said the complaint was about a small number of pencil rubber shavings beneath the seat.

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Paul Turner, the father of the affected learner, told our sister paper the Lancashire Evening Post that his daughter’s instructor had tried to appeal the decision but was turned down, leaving his daugher distraught.

He said: “It was the instructor’s car and it was spotless apart from a few tiny bits of rubber from when the instructor had rubbed something out of his diary.

The rubber and offending filings in the instructor's car

"The filings weren’t on the seat or anywhere where the examiner would be sitting. It wasn’t like there were crisp packets and empty tins everywhere, it’s ridiculous.

"They spent about 10 minutes trying to discuss it and sort it out, but got nowhere."

After the examiner refused to get in the car, the instructor asked for a second opinion, which was refused, then the manager was contacted to no avail.

After Mr Turner reported his daughter’s experience several other drivers also came forward claiming that examiners at the same centre had failed them for similar reasons.

One learner said they had been refused a test because of “a small piece of gravel” in the footwell while another said the examiner had refused to get in the car because of a small number of hairs on the floor in the back of the car.

One driver instructor from Preston told the LEP: "So many driving instructors I speak to are having problems at Blackpool, it’s happening all the time.

"To fail someone for this is absolutely bonkers and those responsible need to be accountable.

"At Preston, you can question decisions by the examiners and they will explain, but in Blackpool, they take it very personally."

There is currently a huge backlog of learners waiting to take their driving test

The DVSA refused to comment on the initial case involving Mr Turner’s daughter or say whether examiners at the Blackpool test centre were being investigated.

A spokesman for the agency said: “DVSA’s priority is to protect our customers and staff and stop the spread of Covid-19.

“Guidance has been issued that cars used on driving tests must be cleaned before the test to lessen the chance of infection.

“Driving tests will not go ahead if this has not been followed to ensure public safety.”

The latest DVSA guidelines on car condition state:

What is the guidance?

The DVSA rules on cars used for driving tests state: “Because of COVID-19, you must clear and clean the inside of your car before your test.

This means you must:

  • remove any rubbish or unnecessary items from the dashboard, footwells, door pockets, cup holders and seats
  • clean and wipe down the dashboard and car controls
  • The examiner will do an additional clean of some surfaces.

“The car you use for your test must have at least one window open on each side throughout the test. Any combination of windows can be opened - for example, one from the front and one from the back. Wear clothing suitable for the weather.”