Driving school

Covid: Ipswich driving school reports demand for lessons

11:41 am February 15, 2022

11:42 am February 15, 2022

Driving instructors are in high demand in Ipswich – but the backlog of tests could mean a long wait for first-timers.

Sandy Baldry, who runs the Sandy Driving School with his daughter, Dominie, has never worked with a waiting list before – but the company has adopted one as demand for driving lessons has increased since the end of lockout.

She said: “I’ve scaled back since Covid – I had planned semi-retirement, really, doing three days a week, but I’m still easily doing five.

“That sounds like a lot, but I was doing seven before the pandemic, and I just couldn’t cut back any more right now because of the demand.

“It’s a bit of a disaster. We have about 12 people on a waiting list, but we get several calls every day about new entrants and we can’t accept anyone at the moment.

“We also have to keep students a little longer than usual due to the backlog of tests. Most of my learners are ready for their test but cannot book for months – I advise them to book as soon as possible. early as possible in a place like Colchester, then we can try to respond to cancellations.

“I think a lot of instructors gave up their jobs, maybe they couldn’t afford to be out of work during the lockdowns, and even now we’re allowed to come back, it’s not easy.”

Isolation restrictions can mean classes and tests can be canceled with little warning or opportunity to reschedule.

And if one of Sandy’s students manages to get a test due to a last minute cancellation, other students may be affected as their class will have to be rescheduled.

She continued: “It’s going to be a while before we’re back on a balanced keel and I’m sorry for the students.

“At a certain age, learning to drive is a rite of passage, so I’m sorry it’s such an expectation for people.”

At the end of 2021, it was reported that over half a million learners across the UK were waiting to take their driving test.

When the lockdown was lifted, the DVSA took steps to tackle the backlog by increasing testing slots on weekends and holidays, hiring more examiners and bringing back recently retired examiners.