DSA to allow LGVs with automatic gearboxes at test from January

The Driving Standards Agency (DSA) has confirmed that changes to allow practical LGV driving tests to be taken in vehicles with an automatic gearbox will come into effect in January 2014.

The DSA is removing the current requirement for vehicles presented at a practical test to have a minimum of eight forward gears.

Those that take the test in an automatic truck will also receive a manual licence if they already hold a manual entitlement for cars, buses or lorries, with or without a trailer.

Existing drivers will also be given the opportunity to exchange/upgrade their licence for a manual one if they already hold a manual entitlement for cars, buses or lorries, with or without a trailer.

Problems?

Sean Pargeter, director at EP Training, believes that the introduction of automatic tests is “inevitable”, as most newer vehicles come with automatic gearboxes, but said it may cause problems for drivers in the long-run.

“I don’t think that it will put them in good stead for employment,” he said. “I think it will make passing the test easier, but most small hauliers are still running manual trucks.”

He also believes the DSA should have given driver training providers more notice to invest in automatic trucks ahead of the new rules.

Consultation results

The result of a consultation into the proposals, published by the DSA yesterday (15 October), revealed that over half (52%) of the 339 respondents supported the position that drivers who pass their test in an automatic vehicle should be given a manual licence if they already hold entitlement for another vehicle category.

Half of the respondents also supported proposals to allow current holders of automatic licences to exchange this for a manual licence if they already hold entitlement in another category.