Driving instructors who are considered a high risk to learners face being removed from the Approved Driving Instructor (ADI) register, the DVSA has announced.
The DVSA says any sexual relationship between an instructor and a 16 or 17-year-old pupil, even if consensual, will be treated as exploitation – as part of efforts to ensure instructors are ‘fit and proper’.
The new measures follow a call from prime minister Theresa May, who in October 2017 asked the DVSA to look at ways to protect learner drivers.
There are currently around 39,000 driving instructors in Great Britain, the majority of whom ‘offer a high standard of tuition and pride themselves on delivering excellent customer service’, according to the DVSA.
However, in 2016-17 there were 109 investigations into instructor misconduct, including inappropriate sexual behaviour and a range of other offences.
The DVSA says it will investigate serious allegations of improper behaviour and refer its findings to the police. These allegations include instructors using sexualised language, unnecessary physical or inappropriate contact and sending indecent messages or images to their pupils.
The DVSA is also reminding learners it is illegal for an instructor to use a hand-held phone while teaching – adding that it is ‘unacceptable’ for instructors to be impatient, shout or swear at learners during lessons
Andy Rice, DVSA head of counter-fraud and investigations, said: “We take the safety of learner drivers extremely seriously and will thoroughly investigate any complaints about the conduct of instructors and will involve the police where necessary.
“Any driving instructors threatening the safety of learner drivers and failing to meet the ‘fit and proper’ criteria will be removed from the ADI register.”