With around 300 driving schools and instructors in a 25 mile radius of Swindon, and the nearest test centres – after Swindon – being in Chippenham, Newbury, and Oxford, it’s not surprising that West Swindon residents feel learner drivers are constantly being taken for a ride around their homes.
After the November Link reported concerns that the volume of learner drivers using the area is posing a danger, with some routes seeming unsuitable, whilst others are constantly used, the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) spokesperson responded, “while learner drivers may obstruct or slow traffic on occasions, we would not expect any of their actions to result in dangerous situations. Approved driving instructors are licensed by the DSA to supervise learner drivers during lessons. They will be mindful not only of the safety of the learners and all other road users, but also the safety of themselves and their vehicles.”
Commenting on the test route, they added: ‘as Swindon’s multi-purpose test centre is in West Swindon, all driving test routes start and finish in this area. However, they do pass through other areas and there are posters in the waiting room asking instructors to avoid teaching manoeuvres on any of the published test routes if possible.”
James Aldred, of Liskeard Way, Freshbrook, is still unhappy. “I see drivers struggling to reverse round corners, delaying traffic and creating obstructions on a main bus route. The DSA is refusing to take ownership of the issue, saying they cannot control where instructors take learner drivers to prepare for their driving test but it’s obvious they’re going to be taken across the test routes. The DSA needs to be more creative about resolving this issue.”
However, West Swindon based instructor Alan Collict says there was no requirement for driving instructors to follow set test routes – he doesn’t and he said it should not be necessary. “It is however essential that pupils are instructed on the techniques to negotiate potential hazards in those areas. Driving tests sometimes require that learner drivers perform manoeuvres safely under pressure created by other road users and this will often include bus routes.
“In fact, residents should try to be patient with learner drivers and perhaps be more aware themselves when driving in West Swindon and further afield.
“Quite often, other drivers cause hazardous safety issues by being very impatient with learners, frequently speeding and overtaking in dangerous places or driving extremely close behind.”