Driving lesson backlog warning: Demand soars as number of instructors continues to decline

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Data from the Department for Transport has revealed that the number of instructors has decreased by 12 percent over the past seven years. Numbers have dropped from 44,569 in 2013 to just 39,521 at the start of 2020 with services set to drop further over the coming years.

Analysis from insurance experts Marmalade has revealed that there could be fewer than 38,000 instructors by 2025 as the decline continues.

Meanwhile, a 2003 “baby boom” will see the number of young people turning 17 rose to almost 100,000 by 2025 in an increase of almost 70,000 people.

According to Marmalade there are currently 17.59 potential learner drivers to each instructor in 2020 but demand is expected to rise.

In just five years, experts predict that each instructor could be responsible for 20.84 potential drivers in a major rise.

Experts warn that the coronavirus pandemic could have a large impact on demand in the near future as young people no longer wish to rely on public transport.

Instructors have reported increased interest for lessons as young drivers are desperate to secure freedoms after months sitting at home.

Marmalade CEO, Crispin Monger said: “It’s no surprise that being stuck at home during the strictest period of lockdown made a lot of people sit down and have a think about their future plans, as well as self-development goals and ambitions once they had the opportunity to tackle them head-on.

“Driving, for many people, is one of the main forms of independence, and being stuck at home for significant lengths of time has been the incentive for many to get on the road and travel in their own vehicle more proactively than ever before.

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“We have also seen a year-on-year increase in sales for learner driving insurance specifically, which is also likely to be driven by the measures being taken on public transport such as the requirement for social distancing and the need to wear a face covering.

“Many people feel safer in the comfort of their own vehicle, and with 20 percent of people suggesting they are likely to drive more to avoid public transport, this is likely to have contributed towards the spike in searches as well.

“The next challenges facing provisional licence holders is finding an approved instructor with availability for new pupils, and booking a driving test, with waiting lists rising all the time.”

The analysis comes weeks after driving schools reported that students were taking more classes in a desperate attempt to pass the first time.

Two-fifths of learner drivers in the UK were now taking two or more lessons per week in the run-up to their assessment.

The analysis from Bill Plant Driving School also found that those who had nor started to learn before lockdown were taking multiple lessons to make up for the lost time.

This is partly to ensure they could pass their practical test before their theory certificate expired.

One-third of learners revealed that not wanting to continue using public transport was the biggest motivation for taking up classes.

The report found that 45 percent of learners had no intention of learning to drive at all before the lockdown showing how the pandemic has had a major impact on the industry.

Tom Hixon, head of Instructor Support at Bill Plant Driving School said: “With the driving school industry having been shut for many months, there were hundreds of thousands of people around the UK who had to put lessons on hold or delay starting them.

“What’s great to see is that so many who never considered learning to drive are now working to get their driving licence.

“We don’t blame so many for wanting to take two or more lessons a week – but ultimately it all comes down to someone’s driving ability and safety on the road.”

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