Driving instructors

Driving instructors earn £600 a week selling test bookings on the black market

Learner drivers now face a 10-month wait to take a driving test, with some instructors making up to £600 by booking slots in bulk and reselling them for a huge profit. A BBC report found some drivers had paid over £200 for their road test, double the standard fee.

The report claims some operators use automated software to book multiple tests, while others are encouraged to start selling them for exorbitant fees due to demand. At present, learners can only book one test at a time on the DVLA website, but driving instructors can select multiple dates, thus booking these slots en masse.

According to the report, some people are running companies guaranteeing testing within three weeks through Facebook Marketplace.

Read more:Learner drivers must wait until 2023 to book a driving test

The BBC spoke to a woman who paid £210 for a test in London. “It was very active,” said 23-year-old ‘Amelia’. “My driving instructor was calling me and saying ‘quick, there’s a cancellation, do you want that?’ The day we booked my test, it was all over in a three or four minute phone call.”

She then had to provide her provisional license information, which meant the instructor could exchange contact details.

The demand for driving tests means that in many places, including Birmingham, London and Cardiff, tests cannot be booked online for up to six months.

Why is there a shortage of driving tests?

The huge driving test backlog has been caused by successive Covid-19 lockdowns, which have seen thousands of exams cancelled. Testing center closures have also contributed to the crisis, further limiting the availability of testing at the worst possible time.

Asked whether some are profiting from the crisis, Charles Moffat, chairman of the Joint National Board of Certified Driving Instructors, said: ‘We abhor such practice and will always report such driving to the Driving Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA)’ , he added.

Meanwhile, the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) has promised to continue all it can do to provide as many tests as possible, which includes hiring more examiners. “We urge applicants not to use third-party cancellation verification services and always go through the official DVSA website.”

“We already have measures in place to monitor and prevent bots from accessing our systems, while hardening our firewall to address the issue.”

Currently the standard fee for a driving test is £62 on weekdays and £75 for an evening, weekend or public holiday test, if booked through the DVSA.