The new CEO of vosa and Dsa.


The new CEO of vosa and Dsa combined services gives a brief this week of his outlines for the future. As mr peoples admits “we’ve heard I all before” but I’m willing to give him the Benicia of the doubt. Below is his public address. 

Alastair Peoples, Chief Executive of VOSA and DSA


When it was announced earlier this year that the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) and the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) were to merge into a single agency, VOSA’s chief executive Alastair Peoples took up the helm of both organisations.

Peoples is no stranger to the driver training industry – in fact he worked as an examiner in his native Northern Ireland in the late 70s and 80s. And although he later moved on to other roles, he says his experience as an examiner is one that still has relevance today:


Experience working as an examiner


“I started with the Department of the Environment in 1978 in Northern Ireland, as a vehicle and driving examiner. I was out there assessing driving test candidates in what was the middle of the Troubles in Northern Ireland, so it was quite a strange environment to be working in. 


“That’s quite a while ago now, but I suppose my experience of being a driving examiner was similar to that of most driving examiners today. Those same pressures were there – you’re out there with a candidate you have no experience of, you don’t know at that point in time whether they’ve been well trained – even the best of them can make a silly mistake and go through a red light.


“So, like now, it was quite stressful but very rewarding. The driving test is not just a fundamental element in terms of road safety, but it’s a fundamental element in terms of jobs or social activity and it makes people much more mobile which is great to see.


“I hope my experience will allow me to reach a bit higher than we have done to date, and set some new ambitious outcomes about how we might deliver the test differently.”


Evolution of training and testing


But Peoples does say he realises things have moved on considerably since the 70s and 80s.

“There’s the old adage that a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing – I hope that’s not the case with me!


“I’m certainly aware that driver testing and training has come a long way since I was an examiner. When I was doing the driving test there was no theory test or hazard perception, no independent driving, so there’s been an enormous amount of change.”


Looking to the future, Peoples is keen to see a rise in pass rates:


“It’s a bit disappointing that our first time pass rate is still so low; I want to see how we can collaborate with the ADI industry and other trainers to try and improve the standard and calibre of candidates to try and get the first time pass rate much higher.



“We want to achieve a higher standard of pass, a higher standard of candidate and a much safer driver on our roads as a result of that.”


Benefits of the merger for ADIs and candidates


Although in the short term candidates and ADIs are unlikely to see any significant impact as a result of the merger between VOSA and DSA, Peoples hopes that ultimately the new organisation will offer more than just cost savings:


“One of the critical success factors that I have set myself is that frontline delivery during this period of transition should mean minimal impact on frontline services. That said, the whole purpose of joining the organisations together is not just to become more efficient, but to become more effective, and part of that is in the customer service element of how we deliver the driving test.


“We want to look at the forward booking times; we want to look at things like taking the test closer to the customer, greater collaboration with the industry – again all about improving standards.


“We’ll be looking at both organisations to see what similarities there are and more importantly what differences there are – what works well, what doesn’t work so well – and try and take the best of each organisation. So there’s a real opportunity to benchmark what we do and go out and ask those that we serve what it is they want from the merged organisation.”


He also mentions the possibility of improved facilities for some test centres:

“In rebranding, we are going to have to look at the waiting room facilities that we provide. I know some of them are in need of much more than a lick of paint, so I will be looking at how we might upgrade some of the facilities that we provide to candidates coming along and to ADIs using waiting rooms.”


He says he will look at continuing DSA’s strategy of offering tests more locally in areas where there isn’t already a test centre:


“Some 70 per cent of the work that VOSA now does is on private sites and that’s expected to hit some 85 per cent by this time next year. I see no reason that DSA can’t have an aspiration that we should be taking testing closer to the customer – where it’s sensible and where it’s practical. What we don’t want to do is to have driving test routes which are closer to the customer but which are not testing the things that we need in order to make sure that our drivers are safe. But I will be looking at what opportunities there are to take the best of what VOSA has done and have a good and serious conversation both with the ADI industry and with those who might be willing to host sites where we currently don’t have them.


Bigger than the sum of its parts

Peoples says that one of the biggest challenges in merging two organisations like DSA and VOSA is bringing together two different working cultures.


“Organisations develop their own cultural elements in terms of the work that people do, the way they’ve been trained, the environment that they work in…I think this will be one of the biggest issues that we need to overcome.


“But I believe that if we are successful in focusing on what we do best, which is delivering high quality and consistent tests – whether it be vehicle testing or driver testing – then the cultures will merge automatically around that.


“I’ll be focusing on how we can create something that is bigger than just the sum of its parts, and in doing that create a new brand and a new organisation that people can really get behind.”


Peoples recognises that you must have heard this all before, but would like to reassure you that the results will speak for themselves.

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Updates on laden testing

The new rules come in this month reguarding laden vehicle testing.

I myself don’t do this but I felt some of you would beifit from a reminder

Updated the start date for the new rules from 30 September 2013 to 15 November 2013 and updated the load requirements.
16 July 2013 12:57
Added information about the rules for training in laden vehicles
8 April 2013 15:16
Updated the rules from September 2013 with more information and explanations of terms used
15 March 2013 15:26
First published.
8 March 2013 14:06

New ‘laden testing’ rules for driving test vehicles

Rules that some vehicles will need to meet to be used for driving tests from 15 November 2013.

 Only applies to England, Scotland and Wales.

New rules from November 2013

The Driving Standards Agency is introducing a real total mass requirement for vehicles used for driving tests from 15 November 2013.

This means that vehicles must carry a minimum weight in order to be used for the driving test.

Your test will be cancelled and you can lose your fee if your vehicle doesn’t meet the rules.

Vehicles affected by the new rules

The new rules will affect vehicles in the categories in the table below.

Vehicle category Vehicle description
C Rigid lorry
C+E Articulated lorry or large lorry and trailer

Trailers affected

The rules will also affect vehicle trailers used in the categories in the table below.

Vehicle category Vehicle description
B+E Car and trailer
C1+E Medium sized goods vehicle and trailer
D1+E Minibus and trailer
D+E Bus or coach and trailer

Requirements from November 2013

From 15 November 2013 vehicles used in these categories of tests must have a load as shown in the table.

Vehicle category Vehicle or trailer affected Minimum real weight Minimum load requirement
C Vehicle 10,000kg 5 x 1,000 litre IBCs
C+E ‘drawbar’ vehicle Towing lorry and trailer 10,000kg for lorry and 5,000 kgfor trailer 5 x 1,000 litre IBCs(lorry) and 3 x 1,000 litre IBCs(trailer)
C+E articulated lorry Semi-trailer 15,000kg 8 x 1,000 litre IBCs
B+E, C1+E, D1+E and D+E Trailers 800 kg 600 kg of aggregates or 1 IBC of 1,000 kg or 600 kgcapacity when filled with water

Rules about the load

The load requirement is:

  • bagged aggregates like sand, stone chippings, gravel or any other recycled material packages (but not toxic materials) in sealed transparent bags – the bags must:
    • all weigh the same
    • be at least 10 kg
    • have the weight clearly stamped on them
  • water, in intermediate bulk containers (IBCs) which are made from semi-transparent moulded plastic usually reinforced with a wire framework

The examiner may need to inspect an IBC used as ‘load’ for the test, so it’s important that they can visually check it has the correct water level.You can’t use any other type of load.

The load must be secured appropriately onto the vehicle or trailer.

Minimum real weight

The ‘real weight’ is the actual weight of the vehicle and the load combined. This cannot be more than the maximum authorised mass (MAM).The MAM is the potential weight of a vehicle or trailer including the maximum load that can be carried safely. This is also known as gross vehicle weight (GVW) or permissible maximum weight.

Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC)

These rules also apply to vehicles used for DriverCPC practical tests.

Vehicles used for Driver CPC periodic training don’t have to be laden. You can provide periodic training using a laden vehicle if you want to, but you’ll need to follow certain rules.

If you don’t have an operator’s licence

You must use a vehicle that’s loaded according to the specified load requirements if you don’t have anoperator’s licence.

If you have an operator’s licence

You don’t need to use a vehicle that’s loaded according to the specified load requirements if you have an operator’s licence. You can use a vehicle carrying its normal load.

Train in laden vehicles

You can provide training using laden vehicles and use them for tests before 15 November 2013 if you want to. This includes training for:

  • the driving test
  • the Driver CPC initial qualification
  • Driver CPC periodic training
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