It said it had received an average of 280 complaints each month from January to May, with most relating to issues during tests.
In one case, a female candidate complained of being intimidated and left upset after a driving instructor shouted at her. After her car cut out, it was in danger of rolling backwards and she claimed the instructor ordered her to engage the handbrake, screaming: “Jesus Christ, woman!”
One person being tested said they failed due to a combination of slow driving and not being far enough left when planning a left turn.
“I was punished five times for not going fast enough on the straight, which I disagree with,” they said.
They were not alone in complaining about losing points due to slow driving, with one person saying they had been penalised for easing off in “extremely wet conditions”.
“I was given a grade 2 for ‘progress on the straight’ for driving 53kmh in a 60kmh zone,” they wrote.
In another case, a person complained because a driving instructor insisted the air bag in the car be turned on. They had asked the owner of the car if it could be switched on but were told it could not. They then claimed other tests had been carried out in the car “without issue” despite the fault.
The RSA responded, saying: “It is important that all your vehicle’s safety systems are in working order and switched on. Not only is this a requirement for your test, but it is also in the interest of your safety and the safety of any of your passengers.”
Another test candidate alleged they were the victim of racial discrimination and said the behaviour of their instructor was “totally unexpected and very traumatising”.
They said they felt the behaviour was “race-based”, with the instructor saying “Jesus Christ” between 20 and 30 times during the test.
The complaint said: “When we came back to the RSA office, [the driving tester] asked me if I had ever driven in my life, and also if I took any classes or ever met any driving instructor.”
A failed test candidate said they had been “completely intimidated” after being told an inspector would also be in the car with their driving tester.
They wrote: “I could see the inspector in the back when I looked to check my mirrors and reverse. I failed disastrously. I know I failed on many things and I am not disputing that, but I felt I was unfairly treated and I would like to resit my test ASAP without an inspector.”
The thorny issue of the Public Services Card (PSC) also came up, with one service user saying they should not have to provide one. In response, the RSA said a so-called MyGovID, which is obtained through the PSC, was only required when making an online application, and the application could be done in person.
Another person complained about not being allowed to use cash to renew driver’s licences, after being told only cards were accepted.
The complaints were among a sample of 40 emails and letters released by the RSA from the 1,394 it received between January and May.
An RSA spokesman said there were complaints about fewer than 1pc of the tests carried out each year, while around 45pc of candidates failed.
“The RSA takes all complaints seriously and they are investigated, and a response is issued to the customer,” the spokesman said.
“It is recognised that the driving test can be a stressful event for customers; for this reason, the RSA places a high priority on the need for driver testers to be courteous to customers and the training of driver testers emphasises this aspect.”