Driving examiners (PCS union) are to stage a 48-hour strike starting on the 4th December, the day the new driving test starts

Thousands of tests could be cancelled due to the strike action. DVSA chief executive Gareth Llewellyn said the union was “trying to undermine the launch of the new test”.

He said it showed a “shameful disregard for both road safety and learner drivers who have worked so hard.” Mr Llewellyn said: “The new driving test has been designed to make sure new drivers have the skills they need to help them through a lifetime of safe driving. “It is one step in helping reduce the number of people killed and seriously injured on Britain’s roads.”

The union has called for the new driving test to be suspended pending a full safety review, due to concerns regarding the new parking on the right manoeuvre and the use of a sat nav during the independent section of the test. It said examiners, who are employed by the Driving and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), were being told to work harder as the tests come into force.

Mark Serwotka, the PCS general secretary, said the government was trying to force “detrimental changes” on its members with the new test. The union questioned the safety of testing sat nav use, saying “incidents occurred on driving lessons which have been conducted to the new testing arrangements”. It added that requiring examiners to carry out seven tests a day – at one hour two minutes per test – should be limited to six tests.

“Our members, whose jobs are about ensuring our roads are safe for drivers and pedestrians, have voted overwhelmingly to demonstrate that these changes are unacceptable,” Mr Serwotka said. Members will work-to-rule from 23 November, where examiners will stay at work but do exactly what is stated in their contracts, with a ban on overtime.

The DVSA said the new test would better assess a driver’s ability to drive safely.

Mr Serwotka called on the government to “avoid this strike action by instructing their officials in the DVSA to scrap the plans and re-enter serious negotiations with PCS”.

But Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, warned that thousands of candidates could be “left fuming” if tests are cancelled.

He said: “Some 1.7 million people in Britain took a driving test last year which suggests around 10,000 candidates could be left fuming if this strike goes ahead.

“We hope a deal can be done to implement the new test to everyone’s satisfaction so this industrial action can be called off.”