‘Frustrating’: Motorists having to wait more than 10 months for driving test after backlog

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Some learners are waiting more than 10 months to take their driving test, while others face eight-hour round trips for theirs due to a shortage of examiners and instructors. Around 1.6 million UK learners had their tests every year before the pandemic, but that dropped to 436,000 in 2020-21.

With over 20 months since lessons were first paused due to social distancing measures – including a hiatus between November 2020 and April 2021 – existing pressures to pass felt by learner drivers have intensified.

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) said it was offering learners tests on weekends and bank holidays and calling on recently retired examiners to return to help with the backlog.

One driver found that her nearest driving centre didn’t have tests available for the following 10 months, resulting in a four-hour round trip for her 40-minute examination.

Some instructors have even said this is the worst test backlog they have seen throughout their careers.

The DVSA chief executive Loveday Ryder said: “We are doing all we can to provide as many tests as possible so we can get our services back to normal.”

Seb Golding, CEO of RED Driving School, reassured drivers that more instructors were being made available.

He said: “At RED, we understand the pressures felt by learner drivers to pass first time – especially now with increased wait times and backlogs due to the pandemic.

“We also understand learners’ frustration when nerves get in the way on test day, sometimes unexpectedly.

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“The demand for lessons and tests is currently at an all-time high.

“There are more than half a million learner drivers affected by the test backlog, and reports of learners waiting up to 24 weeks for a driving test.

“RED recognises the need to ease this demand through recruitment, reflected by our plans to onboard 400 new instructors – and many of them will come through our fast-track training scheme.

“With more learners feeling the pressure to pass first time, we have launched our ‘Test Day Nerves’ webinar to help put learners at ease before taking their test, making them feel as prepared and relaxed as possible.”

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