Driving examiners are staging a 48-hour walkout as a new test comes into force.
Many examiners were set to join a two-day strike from today (Monday), when a new test is introduced, potentially leaving thousands of learner drivers facing delays and cancelled tests.
The Public Commercial Service union (PSC) said up to 14,000 driving tests could be cancelled today.
The union said examiners were being told to work longer and harder for no extra pay when the new tests are introduced.
Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) chief executive Gareth Llewellyn called the strike action “pointless” and that customers will not understand the action.
Mr Llewellyn said: “PCS’s shameful efforts to link the dispute to the new driving test in an attempt to broaden support for its unreasonable position, shows a total disregard for learner drivers, who have worked so hard to be ready to take their test.”
An examiner from Erith Driving Centre in Belvedere refused to confirm if its staff would stage a walkout, stating that it is “down to the individual examiners.”
More than 222,000 learner drivers will take the new driving test, which aims to ensure “a lifetime of safe driving,” with candidates being asked to follow directions from a modern satellite navigation system.
The independent driving portion of the test will be doubled to 20 minutes and there will also be a change to reversing manoeuvres and vehicle safety questions.
DVSA chief driving examiner Lesley Young, said: “New drivers are most at risk during the first few months of driving after they pass their test.
“Changing the test to be more realistic to real life driving will better prepare drivers to keep safe.”
Many of those planning to strike claim the new test could be dangerous, including a manoeuvre of pulling up on the right.
However, Siontai Mylie-Mulling, owner of First Prospects Driving School in Bromley, said: “I think it’s ok, it helps drivers create more vision to pull off safely and can help save drivers lives.”