Building a quality system for Finnish driving tests

In the past AKE has shared with you updates on our search for better quality in our driving tests and our thoughts and findings in that process (CIECA Forum 2003/11 & 12 and 2004/13). We already knew from experience that the Finnish testing process lacked uniformity and that developing a more standardised testing system might produce a more equal test for everyone and possibly also promote customer satisfaction. The biggest problem was – would it have an effect on traffic safety?

Our benchmarking assured us that in order to promote traffic safety it is useful to look at three components; Curriculum (Administration; legislations, regulations, plans), Education (Learning process; training and practice) and Examination (Assessment of Educational outcome). Therefore we wanted to base our quality system on this idea too. At first we defined our project scope and decided to concentrate first on the Examination component. Other guidelines that have been looked up are ISO 9001:2000, the CIECA Quality Manual (CIECA Road Safety Charter working group, 2005) and the 3rd European Union Driving Licence Directive (Directive 2006/126).

Quality policy and administration

The Quality policy is stated in our Quality Handbook. Our mission is to promote safety and the eco-friendliness of road traffic. Our vision is that testing services should be at an internationally high standard and meet EU and national requirements. The test’s function is to make sure that the candidate’s knowledge and skills are sufficient enough to allow them to drive independently in traffic.

The goals are that 1) Novice drivers drive safely, economically and in a social manner, 2) Customers are satisfied with the testing services and 3) the testing services are of high standard/good quality. Achievement of these goals is monitored regularly.

The Quality Manual and all administrative documents like laws, orders, regulations, instructions and procedures are on the internet, on our special website for examiners, so they are always up to date. All the training material can also be found there.

Finnish service providers

The local Finnish test centres do not belong to the same organisation as the administrative body - Vehicle Administration (AKE). AKE regularly runs an open competition for the service providers in 19 parts of the country. As a result of this, AKE makes contracts with the local service providers for a limited period of time. The service providers conduct driving tests on behalf of AKE according to prescribed laws, regulations, standards, directives or specifications. AKE is responsible for what is being done, and also for the quality.

Last year the testing services were put out to tender again. The term of the new contract is 4 years with an option for 3 more years. The service provider is expected to meet the quality standard stated in the contract; otherwise there is a risk that the option will be rejected. The contract’s quality standard includes for example: goals for the quality of services concerning service hours, waiting time for practical driving test delivery and customer guidance. The service times and waiting times are also now updated on the internet for customers to see. There are clearly stated requirements for Quality Assurance which service providers must meet, such as training for examiners and other personnel and internal monitoring of examiners in practical driving tests, with clear sanctions if these standards are not met. These can be seen as Key Performance Indicators. In each of the 19 regions there is a person who is responsible for Quality Management in his own region. Procedures have been established for the collection, analysis and reporting of this data.

The current service provider in all regions, Ajovarma Oy, has a Quality System