Learner drivers face five-month wait for tests with huge backlog to be cleared


Learner drivers face a five-month wait to take tests, say instructors.

The delays follow a year of coronavirus restrictions that left tens of thousands of rookies having to rebook their cancelled tests multiple times.

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency is trying to clear a backlog of 420,000 cancellations by hiring 300 extra examiners to join the existing 1,675.

The scale of the hold-up emerged after the Government announced driving lessons would resume on April 12, followed by tests two weeks later.

Instructors believe it will take at least 20 weeks to clear the backlog, and possibly until the start of next year.

Before the pandemic, the average wait for the £62 test was three to four weeks.

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Learner sign
A year of Covid delays have created a huge backlog

Meanwhile, 380,000 learners are waiting to sit the £23 theory test before they can attempt the practical one.

Carly Brookfield, who represents the 11,000-member Driving Instructors Association, said: “What these numbers don’t tell you is how many driving tests have been cancelled time and time again. There’s a huge worry among pupils that if they fail a test, how long will it be before they get a retest?”

Ms Brookfield said the DVSA could cut the wait for theory tests by allowing people to take them online.

She added: “The DVSA will argue that people will try to cheat. But so many testing bodies are going online using technology that monitors individuals.”

The DVSA claims the average wait for a test is now 17 weeks, not 20.

A spokesman said: “Candidates affected by the suspension are automatically being booked on to the next available test at their chosen centre.

“As soon as it is safe DVSA will increase the number of driving and theory tests available.”

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