Driving instructors

Instructors warn that Hampshire’s driving test backlog is ‘potentially dangerous’ for learners keen to pass

Learner drivers in Hampshire are growing frustrated with the wait time to book a driving test as backlogs pile up across the county. This led to many premature organizational tests, with instructors unable to prevent their students from booking a time slot before they were fully prepared.

According to recent research by Jam, Hampshire has one of the largest waiting lists for testing and the backlog will not be eliminated until 2024. Data from Freedom of Information requests to the DVSA and the Office for National Statistics show that 68,491 learners will be competing for testing slots in Hampshire in 2022/23.

For some instructors, this causes problems in the driver training industry. Liam Greeney is a driving instructor who works for Driving-Proa company which provides courses in Portsmouth, Southsea, Gosport, Fareham, Havant and Waterlooville.

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Speaking to HampshireLive personally, he said the origins of the backlog stem from being unable to work for almost a year. While there are some positives that instructors are now seeing increased interest in their services, the demand for courses and tests is huge.

“A downside for instructors is the number of calls and inquiries we deal with. For example, Driving-Pro in normal times might handle 30 inquiries a week. But at one point this increased to nearly 300 in one week. .

“For students it has created the problem of trying to get a driving instructor. It’s worse if the only time you can do it is in the evenings or at weekends because that’s the peak period. point.”

When it comes to organizing tests, students are so anxious to get a slot that they reserve an hour before finding a monitor. Mr Greeney commented: “Perhaps the biggest problem is that students are using test booking apps to book driving tests. A lot of the calls we get are from people who got a short test. notice, but they don’t have an instructor to take them to the test.

“Overall these calls are from the London area but have been as far afield as Coventry and Cornwall. While I’m sure some of them are capable of securing a car, I know it’s a big problem with the number of no These are useless tests.

Moreover, some of these learners are not ready to succeed and, according to Mr. Greeney, this can have dangerous consequences. “An examiner can only mark what he sees at that time and place. Trying just for the experience is pointless if he fails and potentially dangerous if he is lucky enough to pass.

“Any professional instructor will want to know that their student is taking a driving test, that they are able to pass that test, and that they would be unlucky if they failed rather than lucky if they passed.”

The cause of the backlog isn’t just due to Covid-19, with researchers suggesting the decline in driving instructors and the mild baby boom of the early 21st century also had an impact.

Commenting on the research, Crispin Moger, CEO of Marmalade, said: “We have seen the biggest backlog ever in access to driving tests and for many this will have significantly delayed them on their journey to hit the road or may -be even put an end to it for some.

“The DVSA said it was offering overtime to examiners and rolling out a recruitment campaign to increase capacity, while closing test centers across the UK as we have seen recently in Manchester and in Shropshire.”

A DVSA consultation in January 2022 put forward proposals to encourage learner drivers to better prepare for their driving test and help reduce the number of lost driving test appointments.

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