Driving test examiners could be given body cameras following a wave of attacks by failed candidates.
Over 300 Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency staff encountered physical or verbal abuse in 2016 which rose from 198 in the previous year.
Around 240 of these attacks were on driving test examiners up from approximately 180 during 2015.
The DVSA has launched a crackdown on the abuse, including a trial of body cameras for front-line staff.
They will initially be given to roadside workers but could be rolled out to include driving test examiners if they prove effective, the agency said.
The DVSA also pledged to make abusive learner drivers take their next test elsewhere and to refer all incidents of threats and physical assault to the police.
In West Yorkshire in March a candidate who was asked to stop his car after committing a number of serious errors swore at the examiner and drove wildly across a dual carriageway.
The examiner had to use dual controls to bring the vehicle to a safe stop.
The culprit was banned from that test centre and will be supervised during any future tests.
“Our message is clear – whatever has happened, don’t take it out on our staff. If you do, we’ll press for the strongest possible penalties,” said DVSA chief executive Gareth Llewellyn.
RAC road safety spokesman Pete Williams said it was “disappointing” to see such a “marked increase” in the level of abuse directed at DVSA staff who play “a vital role in ensuring the safety of drivers and vehicles on a daily basis”.
He added: “The majority of UK drivers and road users will wholeheartedly support a zero-tolerance approach to such behaviour.”