Driving tests get green light to resume … but road ahead is jammed
Driving tests are to resume this month, the Transport Secretary has announced as learners have been warned that they face up to an eight-month wait, with instructors fully booked.
Grant Shapps confirmed on Wednesday that lessons could restart from Monday April 12, with tests then due to resume on April 22. Tests have been paused since the first lockdown and industry experts estimate this has caused a backlog over 1.1 million untaken driving tests. Mr Shapps said the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) would create extra test slots at weekends and Bank Holidays to shorten waiting times.
The minister’s statement met disgruntled responses from learner drivers saying their earliest test slots had been pushed back as far as August. Research carried out by Marmalade, an insurer specialising in learner drivers, based on government data on the average number of tests carried out in a year, estimated that 1.16 million tests had been cancelled over the three lockdowns. A survey of more than 1,700 learners carried out by the company found they were now facing waits of up to 8 months to retake their tests.
Meanwhile, the Approved Driving Instructors National Joint Council has warned that the backlog could be exacerbated by the fact there were now fewer qualified instructors than before the pandemic. Analysis by the council showed there were 38,778 instructors in the country, a reduction of more than 2 percent from a year ago. Lynne Barrie, who chairs the council, said: “Learners should be aware that the number of instructors has declined.
The pressure of the backlog is leaving many under pressure to fit their clients into their diaries but there are only so many hours a day that an instructor can safely train their clients.”