DSA Statement on the Legality of Off-Road Driver Training

Article originally appeared in 2012 on another website.)

Some 4×4 instructors have received conflicting information regarding whether the government’s Driving and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) feel that 4×4 trainers should be Approved Driving Instructors (DVSA ADIs). Some time ago we decided to call the DSA (as they were then, prior to their merger with VOSA) ourselves and unfortunately had a similarly confusing time finding someone who was willing to give an official statement.

As ever, we knew the DSA were happy to reply to emails, though there is usually some delay, so we emailed Rosemary Thew:

You have previously (several years ago) confirmed that there is no exemption from the requirements of the RTA and RSA for paid instructors in category B vehicles, whether training post test or off-road.

Recent phone calls to the DSA by colleagues (and finally yesterday by myself) have received contradictory advice. Similar to my colleagues, I was initially informed by an examiner from Technical Standards that it was not a legal requirement to be an ADI. Once I requested the exemption from the legislation in writing, this advice was then downgraded to ‘it doesn’t come under the DSA Regulations’ with the reasoning that it was post-test training and was undertaken on private land. He admitted that it may be illegal and asked me to contact yourself for clarification.

Could you please let me know whether there is any exemption to the requirement to be on the register of Approved Driving Instructors when being paid to train in a category B 4×4 vehicle with full licence holders on private land?

I appreciate that the DSA do not make the law and that as you have limited experience in this area you may not wish to pursue prosecutions, but I would appreciate the opinion of the DSA as to whether you think the law applies here.

If there has been a change to the legislation, an exemption or derogation for 4×4 trainers (or for any vocational driver training post-test) I would appreciate details.

If there has been no change and your previous advice that all paid driver trainers of category B vehicles should be on the register, regardless of whether the candidates have licences or the training is undertaken off-road, could you please ensure that your staff understand this and avoid giving out potentially incorrect advice.

I provide a lot of guidance for trainers and businesses, so would appreciate being able to quote the DSA in this matter both in meetings and correspondence as well as publicly on my websites. I have no wish to mis-represent either yourselves or the facts, but if you are unhappy to provide a public statement please let me know.

Subsequently, we received this response from Carole Hodgson of Corporate Correspondence, which confirms that their stance has not changed:

Thank you for your email of 19 March about off road driving tuition.

I am sorry we have given you conflicting information.

There has been no change to the legislation. The Road Traffic Act 1988 (Section 123) – renders it a criminal offence to provide driving instruction for money or monies worth unless the driving instructor is registered or licensed to give instruction in accordance with Section 123(1).

Section 123 applies to all paid tuition, regardless of whether the person receiving instruction possesses a full licence or not. Section 123 applies to instruction on public and private roads and also to off road tuition.

This, and more recent correspondence to colleagues and certificating bodies, confirms our feelings that all 4×4 training, both on-road or off-road, and whether involving category B licence holders or not, should only be undertaken by DVSA ADIs.

Possible offences may not be limited to the person by whom instruction is given (the instructor) but also “if that person is employed by another to give that instruction, that other, as well as that person, is guilty of an offence.”. (RTA 1988 Section 123 4b)

We would like to re-iterate that we are happy to correspond with and help any organisation, training provider, training body or instructors who wish to ensure that their training is run with road safety legislation and health and safety legislation.

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