As rumours abound about lockdown being eased we await with eagerness to hear what the Prime Minister will say in his address tomorrow. What will it mean for us? It’s doubtful we’ll get a mention… and as we all know, social distancing is impossible for us, but we need to get back to work. With this in mind we have sent a letter to Grant Shapps, the Secretary of State for Transport, which is worded as follows –
ADINJC REQUEST FOR HELP WITH DRIVING INSTRUCTORS RETURING TO WORK
I am writing to you as Chair of the ADINJC (Approved Driving Instructors National Joint Council) which is one of the leading national driving instructor associations in the UK with a membership of 8,000 driving instructors and rider trainers, the profession as a whole having 39,000 plus government licensed individuals. As a large national association we are one of the three who form NASP (National Associations Strategic Partnership) who are a Tier 1 Stakeholder, I am currently also in the Chair at NASP. I have attended all the weekly meetings with the DVSA and other stakeholders since this COVID 19 crisis began and have found them to be most useful as a stakeholder.
However I have concerns because as a profession and industry we are quite unique and therefore I feel we need to be given specific help and advice for when we return to work. We cannot work from home and we have huge challenges with social distancing in the vehicles we teach in. I often hear other groups of workers referred to but sadly as driving instructors that is not the case. We need clear guidelines on how to proceed. I realise that the DVSA will have their Standard Operating Procedures and we as an association will see these and can take some of that information as help, however guidance for ADIs (Approved Driving Instructors) needs to go much further.
ADIs have in in the majority, apart from those who have been teaching critical workers, listened to Government advice and stayed at home for their safety, their families and their clients. However not earning money has hit them extremely hard even with the support from the Government which is limited.
We cannot safely stay 2.0 metres away from our clients. If ADIs return to work it will be against your guidelines and in breach of the law possibly. Even at 1 metre social distance as per The World Health Organisation guidelines we still can’t stay far enough apart in the car. The ADINJC has sent out guidelines for anyone wanting to teach critical workers however these haven’t come from the Government we have produced them ourselves to the best of our ability.
If an ADI decides to break the lockdown and be prosecuted it is possible that the DVSA could decide to remove an ADI from the register and their income would stop immediately. Sadly I am beginning to hear of ADIs who are going out to teach because they feel they have no choice due to lack of earnings or any clear advice. Some are making plastic dividers for their cars thinking this is safe when actually guidelines would say that it is dangerous if an air bag were to need to deploy. There is much discussion around using gloves and masks and indeed which ones to use. There are no definitive answers to the mask and gloves being used coming from DVSA to date.
We are an important, albeit small, group of people who help to train a large number of drivers of many different categories. My fear is that without proper structured advice, people will make ill-founded decisions as to what is safe, both from the virus point of view, and from a road safety standpoint. I do realise that each ADI will at some point need to make their own risk assessment as to if they should return to work due to individual circumstances such as their age, health and possible family members who have underlying health conditions which may make them decide personally not to return to work.
We urgently need advice on what we can advise our members as to the correct way forward. Since the emergency measures started, we have been encouraging them to follow government guidance in relation to hygiene and social distancing, and any guidance that has come from DVSA. However, if we are to return to work in the foreseeable distance we do consider that we need some help and guidance over and above what has been forthcoming to date. Should we be recommending that instructors use any kind of PPE? Is there any research that would help us? Is any consideration being given to special recommendations for people in close proximity? As an industry we feel we need special consideration and guidance. We look forward to hearing from you.
Lynne Barrie MA, DVSA ADI (Car)
We will be sending the same letter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Business Secretary, Shadow Ministers and PACTS.
Stay safe and enjoy whatever you’re doing.
Whilst our newsflashes are normally a benefit of membership of the ADINJC, during this national emergency we want to share information as widely as possible, so please feel free to pass this on. We are stronger together.
The NJC continues to be dedicated to help you in these challenging times and we hope you and your loved ones stay safe and healthy. Please feel free to contact us for help and support.
ADINJC’s helpline is 0800 8202 444
The Secretary’s number is 07855 453414
HMRC Helpline: 0800 0159 559
Citizens Advice Bureau – https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/health/coronavirus-what-it-means-for-you/
Samaritans: 116 123
You can sign up to receive Government updates on Coronavirus relating to driving tests here.
The ADINJC is a national association run by ADIs on a not-for-profit basis. We work tirelessly to inform, represent and support our members, and to promote the interests of our profession.