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Tuesday, 7 August, 2001, 15:03 GMT 16:03 UK
Driving examiners fight back
Learner driver
The practical test can cause tempers to flare
Driving examiners are taking action against the growing number of attacks on them by failed learner drivers.

Figures released by the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) show a marked increase in the number of verbal and physical attacks on staff at test centres.

The DSA, based in Nottingham, is distributing posters warning candidates that they will be reported to the police for aggressive behaviour.

Driving examiners say the agressive behaviour can be anything from shouting or banging the steering wheel to punches or pushing.

'Physical attacks'

Out of an estimated 1.2 million practical tests taken last year there were 207 attacks across the country compared with 182 the previous year.

We understand driving tests can be stressful, but this is no excuse for resorting to this kind of attack on our staff

Peter Burton, DSA

Peter Burton, the Assistant Chief Driving Examiner for the DSA said: "It's a problem that's increasing. This year there were 14% more assaults on examiners than last year.

"Most of these attacks are just verbal, where the candidate has a go at the examiner when the result has been announced.

"Some regrettably are physical attacks and in fact two examiners were injured last year."

"We understand driving tests can be stressful, but of course this is no excuse for resorting to this kind of attack on our staff."

'Candidate explodes'

Mr Burton said he himself had been subjected to aggressive and threatening behaviour after failing a candidate.

"Sometimes the candidate just explodes. They start banging the steering wheel and using bad language.

"You just have to remain calm and hope they will calm down too.

"Sometimes you just have to get out of the car and walk away to protect yourself."

The DSA said the attacks even if they are verbal could be very intimidating.

The poster campaign aims to show candidates that "road rage" attacks will be taken seriously.

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