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Driving testers accused of being 'rude', 'condescending' and 'inappropriate' in complaints to RSA

Complaints include drivers being told to disregard speed limits and testers getting into shouting matches.

Image: Shutterstock/antoniodiaz

DRIVING TESTERS HAVE been accused of being “condescending” “inappropriate” and “rude” in a number of complaints made to the Road Safety Authority (RSA). 

Since January this year, a total of 23 complaints have been made against driving testers around the country. 

Correspondence released under the Freedom of Information Act reveals that some testers had told drivers to disregard speed limits, while others had gotten involved in shouting matches with construction workers during driving tests. 

A statement from the RSA has said that if a customer undergoing a driving test is not satisfied that the test was conducted properly, they may make an appeal through the District Court.

At one test carried out in January of this year, the tester asked the driver to pull over as the test began so she could shout at a woman about picking up her dog’s droppings, the driver said.

‘Unprofessional behaviour’

According to her complaint: “As I began to drive out of the test centre before we even reached the exit she asked me to pull over and roll my window down so she could ask a woman walking her dog if she had a bag to pick up her dog’s waste. I thought this was most unprofessional behaviour from a tester and it made me feel extremely awkward and embarrassed.”

The driver said she was later told she failed her test, and the tester proceeded to outline her errors in front of everyone at the test centre. 

“I was disgusted by how rude and unprofessional she was and was very disappointed that the standard of professionalism is so low as a tester.” 

One teenager who took her test in February outlined how her tester told her to ignore the instructions of a construction worker as they approached a building site. 

As they approached, the worker shouted at the driver, asking why they had not halted and waited as instructed. 

In her complaint, the teen said: “My driving tester then rolled down his window and proceeded to shout at the road works man – ‘your XXXX road works system is XXXX’ The two men then argued and shouted across me while I sat there shaking and stressed. I was in the middle of two men. I then had no choice but to continue driving as the vehicle was in the way. I found this very stressful as I was in the middle of a test…” 

IMG_4543 Source: RSA

Can’t view the image, click here

She added that she was doing the driving test in her instructor’s car, which had the company name and details on the side of the vehicle. 

“This could have a horrible effect for their company and its reputation.”

The driver said she was later told that she had failed the test, and had to pay again to re-do the test. She passed on the second attempt. 

She added that as a “teenage girl” she was complaining about the “horrendous language” used by the tester, stating that the ordeal was “very stressful”. 

Breaking the speed limit

Another complaint made to the RSA stated that the tester instructed the driver to break the speed limit when leaving the test centre. They said the speed limit in the area was 15 kilometres per hour, but the tester told them to “disregard this”. 

“It confused me and left me unsure about how to proceed during the test in terms of obeying the rules of the road… how can you ask drivers to complete a test fairly if you expect them to break rules of the road that don’t suit the tester,” said the driver, who sought a refund for the RSA. 

One customer said the behaviour of their driving tester was “appalling”.

The complainant outlined that they were nervous about the test, and the tester’s behaviour did not help. 

She was regularly tutting and sighing when I did something wrong during the test and on one occasion even turned and looked at me and shook her head. 

“She made me feel as if I had no place even being tested,” said the customer, who said such “unprofessionalism” can really knock someone’s confidence and prevent them from ever wanting to take the test again. 

A driver who took their test last year said during their test a Traveller in a horse-drawn cart pulled out in front of the car. The complainant states that the tester said he handled the situation well, but stated that comments made by the tester throughout the test distracted them from carrying out the test effectively. 

She distracted me by making comments and laughing about the Traveller on the horse during my test. When we returned to the test centre I was informed that I had failed my test. I was upset and unhappy and went home upset.

‘Use your brain’

One email to the RSA states that a driver who failed their test asked the tester afterwards what would have been the correct action to take in relation to one situation, and the tester replied: “Well, use your brain.” 

Another complaint outlined how the tester refused to carry out the driving test with a customer as they were two minutes late.

He said the tester documented that he had turned up late, longer than was the case, and when he challenged him on it, the tester shouted at him and said it was not up for discussion. When he asked for the tester’s name, the man pointed to his name tag and said “read that”. 

“I have never been treated so badly by anyone and I certainly didn’t expect to be treated like that by a representative of the RSA,” said the letter. 

shutterstock_1067617334 Source: Shutterstock/Bjoern Wylezich

Another complained about experiencing “very aggressive and verbally abusive” behaviour during the last two tests he had attempted, stating: “I am not happy to be paying for tests in which I feel testers are very difficult to deal with.” 

One email outlines how the tester snapped at a driver stating that she needed an interpreter as her English was not good enough. 

She explained that on two previous tests, she was never told that her English was not up to standard to complete the test. 

IMG_4542 Source: RSA

Can’t see the image, click here

Constantly on the phone

One email described how their tester “was constantly checking his phone and smart watch” during the test. 

He was not paying attention to my driving at all.

The driver said he was given a poor result for one aspect, and when they questioned the tester as to where it took place they said “some road around here”, adding that it was for “poor observation turning left”.

The driver disagreed with the mark and asked:

How he can fail me for observation when he spent the test observing his phone and smart watch. As I am sure you can imagine this is not only frustrating that a State-run test could be done so poorly but stressful as I am getting my licence for work. The fact that a tester can just fail an applicant so incorrectly and not even try to explain why is a disgrace.

One tester was described as displaying “nothing more than intimidation and abuse” to the driver, who questioned why the tester had to imply “I was blind and refer to his own driving ability” when pointing out where they went wrong in their test. 

“His condescending remarks on my mistakes were nothing short of bullying and he stayed at it till I was in tears…”. 

A number of complaints referenced testers not even saying hello or greeting the driver before their test. 

Shaking their head throughout the test

Another email outlined how the tester shook their head several times during the test. The complainant said they had heard from others about his “rudeness” and how he had reduced one driver to tears.

They added that the tester did not explain any of the things they had done incorrectly during the test, adding the tester said it would be emailed to the driver.

The email said the driver left the test centre totally unaware of the errors they had made and said the attitude of the tester was “utterly unacceptable”. 

In a statement from the RSA to TheJournal.ie, it said that driver testers receive a specific module on customer care in their training to become a driver tester.

“There is ongoing monitoring by their supervisor of the tester’s customer care skills, and any concerns will be addressed as part of the management and supervision of the driver tester.

“In the case where a complaint is made by a customer in relation to the behaviour of a driver tester the complaint is formally referred to the tester. The supervisor will discuss the matter with the tester in question and respond to the issue raised by the customer.

“A written response is then issued to the customer. If the customer is not satisfied with the response it is open to them to refer the matter to the Office of the Ombudsman.

The statement added that if a customer undergoing a driving test is “not satisfied that the test was conducted properly, they may make an appeal through the District Court”.

The customer is informed of this in the documentation given to them on the day of the test. If the appeal is upheld, the customer is granted a further test free of charge.

Currently, the average waiting time for a driving test is between five and eight weeks. The RSA has said it is in the process of hiring additional testers to meet demand, stating that new legislation which clamped down on unaccompanied learner drivers has increased pressure on test centres. 

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