Driving Standards Agency

Driving Standards Agency
Driving Standards Agency
Abbreviation DSA
Formation April 1990
Type Government agency (Trading fund)
Purpose/focus Administration of UK driving tests
Headquarters The Axis Building
Location Upper Parliament Street, Nottingham, UK
Region served Great Britain
Chief Executive Rosemary Thew
Main organ Executive Board
Parent organization Department for Transport
Affiliations VOSA, DVLA, VCA
Budget £176m (2008)
Staff 2,653
Website DSA

The Driving Standards Agency (DSA) is an executive agency of the UK Department for Transport (DfT).

DSA’s vision is 'Safe Driving for Life'. Its overall mission is to contribute to the public service agreement objective to achieve 40% reduction in riders and drivers killed or seriously injured in road accidents, in the age group up to 24 years, by 2010 compared with the average for 1994-98.

The responsibilities of DSA only cover Great Britain. In Northern Ireland the same role is carried out by the Driver & Vehicle Agency (DVA).



A DSA test centre in Harehills, Leeds.

The Driving Standards Agency (DSA) is a national organisation with headquarters in Nottingham, training and learning materials centre at Cardington in Bedfordshire and administrative centres in Cardiff and Newcastle. It delivers tests from over 400 driving test centres and 140 theory test centres.

The DSA is one of the executive agencies that forms the Motoring and Freight Services (MFS) group, within the Department for Transport. The DSA is a Trading Fund with a turnover of over £184 million in 2009-10[1] mainly funded through fees and revenue from other road safety initiatives.

Aims and objectives

The DSA's mission and primary aim is to continually promote road safety by influencing driver and rider behaviour. It does this through:

  • setting the standards for pre-driver education and driver trainers
  • registering and supervising quality assured Approved Driving Instructors
  • carrying out theory and practical driving and riding tests
  • quality assurance of all testing activity
  • investigating cases of suspected theory test and practical test impersonations and identity fraud
  • developing the future education and testing environment through its Learning to Drive programme


The DSA employs 1,789 practical driving examiners, and 728 administrative staff and managers. By March 2011 it plans to employ a total of 2,769 staff, dependent on trading and the government freeze on recruitment.

Board structure

The chief executive is accountable to the Secretary of State for ensuring that the DSA meets its obligations and delivers its targets and services. The chief executive has overall responsibility for the DSA's activities, ensuring it meets its financial obligations, and providing assurance of a sound system of internal control. The Director General of Motoring and Freight Services, Steve Gooding, is the additional accounting officer.

The chief executive is supported by an executive board, including two non-executive directors. The executive board’s role is to provide support and advice. The executive board meet on a monthly basis.

A separate audit and risk management committee, comprising non-executive directors, acts independently of the executive board to provide assurance both on financial and non-financial matters, including corporate governance and risk management, to the chief executive.

The change board, attended by the chief executive and appropriate directors, oversees the development and effective management of the DSA’s investment plan of change projects and programmes. The change board meets monthly.

The operational performance group, which also meets monthly is chaired by the operations director and attended by senior managers, monitors performance against targets and business plan objectives.

Theory and practical driving tests

Before learning to drive a car, moped or motorcycle, a provisional driving licence must be obtained. If a driver already holds a valid full driving licence but wishes to drive larger vehicles, minibuses or buses, provisional entitlement for these categories of vehicle is required.

For those holding a provisional licence, taking the theory test is the next step before acquiring a full licence. For cars and motorcycles candidates are asked 50 questions in 57 minutes and the pass mark is 43 out of 50. For lorries and buses, there are 100 questions in 115 minutes and the pass mark is 85 out of 100.

The hazard perception test is the second part of the driving theory test. Both parts must be passed in order to pass the theory test. If successful, one can then apply to take the practical driving test.

The practical test starts with an eyesight check and some vehicle safety questions. The driving part of the test lasts about 40 minutes, and involves performing some specific manoeuvres as well as demonstrating an overall safe standard of driving. A candidate may make up to 15 minor driving faults but still pass the test (16 or more results in failure). However, if one serious or dangerous fault is committed, then the test is failed. The current[when?] pass rate for car 'L' tests is 43%.

The cost of the theory test is now £31.00, and the practical car test is £62.00 if taken on weekdays or £75.00 if taken at weekends or weekday evenings.[2]

To help candidates fully prepare for their theory and practical driving and motorcycle tests, The Stationery Office (TSO), DSA’s official publishing partner, produces a range of best-selling official publications. These include The Official DSA Theory Test for Car Drivers (available as a book, CD-ROM or interactive download), The Official DSA Complete Theory Test Kit (CD-ROM and DVD pack) and The Official DSA Guide to Driving – the essential skills (available as a book or downloadable PDF). The full range of titles is available from The Stationery Office online bookshop.

Driving test fees

Driving test fees
test type before July 2005 July 2005–April 2006 April 2006 April 2008 January 2010
Car and motorcycle theory test £21.50 £21.00 £21.50 £30.00 £31.00
Lorry and bus theory test no information no information no information £45.00 £50.00
ADI part I theory test no information no information no information £80.00 £90.00
Car practical test (standard weekday) £42.00 £45.50 £48.50 £56.50 £62.00
Car practical test (standard out of hours) no information no information no information £67.50 £75.00
Car practical test (extended weekday) no information no information no information £113.00 £124.00
Car practical test (extended out of hours) no information no information no information £134.00 £150.00
Motorcycle practical test (standard weekday) £51.00 £55.00 £58.00 £60.00 £90.50
Motorcycle practical test (standard out of hours) no information no information no information £70.00 £104.00
Motorcycle practical test (extended weekday) no information no information no information £120.00 £165.50
Motorcycle practical test (extended out of hours) no information no information no information £140.00 £192.50
Domestic licence (category F, G, H and K) practical test (standard) no information no information no information £56.50 £62.00
Domestic licence (category F, G, H and K) practical test (out of hours) no information no information no information £67.50 £75.00
Car with trailer, lorry and bus practical test (standard) £80.00 £85.00 £89.00 £105.00 £115.00
Car with trailer, lorry and bus practical test (out of hours) no information no information no information £125.00 £141.00
Driver CPC Module 4 practical test (standard) not conducted not conducted not conducted not conducted £55.00
Driver CPC Module 4 practical test (out of hours) not conducted not conducted not conducted not conducted £63.00
ADI part II practical test £70.00 £79.00 £82.00 £99.00 £111.00
ADI part III Ability to Instruct test £70.00 £79.00 £82.00 £111.00 £111.00
Driving instructor trainee licence £100.00 £125.00 no change no change £140.00
Theory test pass certificates for organisations with delegated authority (car and motorcycle) £10.00 £12.00 £14.00 £18.50 >03/Sep/2007 no change
Theory test pass certificates for organisations with delegated authority (lorry and bus) no information no information no information £29.00 no change

The last increases prior to July 2005 were:

  • Practical car and motorcycling test: 2002
  • Lorry and bus tests: 2001
  • Driving instructor test: 1997

Sources: http://www.dft.gov.uk/dsa/PressRelease.asp?id=4206 http://www.dft.gov.uk/dsa/PressRelease.asp?id=145

Driving instructor registration

The DSA holds a register of Approved Driving Instructors (ADIs) in Great Britain. The ADI Registrar also issues trainee licences to give instruction. In order to qualify as an ADI, three tests must be passed:

  • theory (part one) - a multiple choice section and a video-based hazard perception section;
  • driving ability (part two) - an eyesight test followed by a practical test of driving technique;
  • instructional ability (part three) - a practical test of the ability to instruct.

All three parts of the examination must be passed in this order, and must be completed within two years of passing the theory test (part one).

After being entered on the ADI register, ADIs are free to give driving instruction for money or monies worth, either working for a driving school or being self-employed. It is a condition of remaining on the register that all ADIs undergo a periodic "test of continued ability of fitness to give instruction" also known as the 'check test'. The passage of the Road Safety Act 2006 empowered DSA to set the standards on all paid tuition, not just that of motor cars as was previously the case.

The DSA requires people who are applying to register as a Potential Driving Instructor (PDI), as well existing ADIs who are applying to extend their registration or re-register, to have a criminal record check. DSA uses the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) to obtain criminal record checks of people in England and Wales, and Disclosure Scotland for people in Scotland.

Some ADIs choose to take additional qualifications so that they can train drivers of large goods vehicles, or fleet drivers. The DSA also holds a voluntary register for fleet drivers, Compulsory Basic Trainers (for motorcycles), Large Goods Vehicle instructors and the Register of post-test motorcycle trainers. These registers provide quality standards for the relevant discipline, but are not necessary for paid tuition.

'Learning to Drive' programme

Following consultation, Ministers have decided to proceed with a programme of measures, based on education and incentivisation, which will strengthen the way that people learn to drive and are tested, and encourage a culture of lifelong learning.[3]

DSA plan a phased implementation programme, which supports progressive improvements whilst avoiding disruption to those currently learning to drive.

Early improvements are:

  • continued roll out across Great Britain of the new pre-driver qualification in safe road use
  • introducing from October 2009:
    • a partial credit towards the theory test for car drivers for those students awarded the new pre-driver qualification in the form of an abridged theory test
    • case studies into the theory test for car drivers and moped and motorcycle riders to better assess whether learners have understood driving or riding theory
  • launching in 2009/10 a trial to assess the effectiveness of the proposed new learning to drive syllabus and process
  • introducing from October 2010 a requirement for the supervising driver to accompany the candidate during a practical car test
  • subject to the outcome of the trialling, from October 2010 introducing into all DSA practical tests for learner drivers an assessment of competence whilst the candidate is driving independently.


The DSA has moved its information about learning to drive and ride to Directgov and its information for businesses to Business Link. This is part of the of Transformational Government strategy. Its corporate information, which includes how the agency is run, consultations, and press releases, has moved to the Department for Transport website.

Social media

The DSA announced the launch of its own video sharing channel on YouTube on 22 September 2009.[4] The channel – youtube.com/dsagov – is being used to post road safety videos which offer advice to test candidates and other road users.

The DSA also operates a Twitter channel - twitter.com/dsagovuk

See also


External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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