More than half a million learners are still on a waiting list to take their practical driving test as the pressure to clear the huge backlog built up during the lockdowns has not yet eased, it said. -it was revealed.
At the end of May, some 530,387 aspiring motorists were waiting for an available testing slot – and testing for new instructors to teach learners also stalled, making the situation worse, according to AA Driving School.
The backlog of driving tests increased by 34,263 at the end of May 2022 from a year earlier, according to data provided by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency following a freedom of information request.
Driving Test Book: Over half a million learners are waiting to take a road test, with the average time for available slots being 14 weeks. In busy areas this can be up to 6 months
Since the start of the pandemic, various blockages, restrictions and delays in the return of practical driving tests have caused the backlog to increase from around 150,000 learners in August 2020 to almost 600,000 in August 2021.
The DVSA has put in place a number of measures to try to eliminate growing waiting lists, including creating more than 400,000 additional testing appointments between April and June last year with time slots supplementary, weekends and public holidays made available, inviting retired examiners to return to work and even to buy back leave from certain invigilators.
New figures released today show that 425,900 practical car tests were carried out between January and March, 14% more than in the first quarter of 2021.
Yet this still fails to reduce the post-Covid backlog as quickly as learners hope.
The current average wait time for a test slot is around 14 weeks – meaning booking a practice today in the height of summer would see a learner take their test in mid-November.
Size of waiting lists for driving tests since Covid lockdowns
August 31, 2020: 147,716
January 25, 2021: 381,798
May 31, 2021: 496 124
June 28, 2021: 517 911
August 30, 2021: 592,987
January 31, 2022: 517,053
May 30, 2022: 530,387
Source: AA Driving School, data provided by DVSA
However, in some busy areas, the DVSA says learners can wait up to 24 weeks, or almost six months.
A spokesperson for the government agency told This is Money: “Following the suspension and hiatus of testing for much of the pandemic, we are doing everything we can to provide learners with as many driving tests as possible. practical as possible and reduce average wait times to less than 10 weeks by the end of the year.
“To cope with the high demand for driving tests, we have recruited an additional 300 examiners, carrying out tests during non-working hours, such as weekends and public holidays, and asking qualified staff who are no longer working as a driving examiner to carry out tests.
“We understand that this is a difficult time for learner drivers, so we are supporting them in preparing for their driving test through our Ready to move on? Countrywhich you can find at https://www.gov.uk/ready-to-pass.’
In order to pass their practice tests, the learner needs a valid theory test pass.
However, with theory certificates valid for just 24 months, some learners are now having to retake the £23 theory test due to the backlog, the AA driving school has said.
Mark Oakley, chief executive of the AA Driving School, said the ‘spiraling’ backlog is ‘absolute madness and must stop now’ as he urged DVSA to do more to reduce wait times .
The high demand for hands-on driving tests has also led to a wave of websites claiming to make mass bookings using bots and then charging extra for the available slots they secure.
While a practice test costs £62 on the official government website, the AA says it is aware of reports that learners are being charged over £200 by resale sites.
AA Driving School also requested data on wait times for driving instructor exams when it increased its FOI with the DVSA in June.
New driving instructors must pass three exams, called the Part 1, 2 and 3 tests.
The data showed that as of May 30, 2022, the average wait time for a Part 2 test was 20.7 weeks and the average wait time for a Part 3 test (the last exam that new driving instructors must pass) was 17.2 weeks.
The DVSA confirmed that as of last month, 438 Certified Driving Instructor tests were pending without a date, meaning these instructors have no known time frame for completing their training.
Mark Oakley, chief executive of the AA driving school, said a “spiraling” backlog of learners and trainee instructors is “absolute madness and needs to stop now”.
He continued: “When we revealed the true state of the backlog last year, the DVSA said measures were in place to resolve it, but these new figures show that they have not followed the request.
“To still have half a million in arrears a year later is a significant problem.
“The fact that the backlog of practical tests has increased from January to May 2022 alone shows that real work needs to be done.
“We know from previous AA research that driving is one of the key skills to make finding a job easier, which in turn helps individuals, families and the growth of the UK economy. in general.
“There are students in every county who are ready to pass their tests and move on to the next phase of their lives, whether it’s job and education opportunities or lifestyle changes. , but everything is on hold until they can get their driver’s license.”
The average pass rate for practical driving tests over the past five years is 47%, according to the DVSA
Mr Oakley added: ‘The backlog of tests also means that driving instructors are in high demand and some have to close their books to new students until they have space available.
“To add to the problem, we have a significant number of learner driving instructors waiting to complete their training to teach these students, but qualifying exams are four months behind schedule.
“We recently met with the DVSA to discuss the matter and we know they are committed to working on it, but there is still a lot to be done to help the industry break free from the shadow of Covid.”
RAC road policy officer Nicholas Lyes said an average waiting period of 14 weeks to get a driving test slot is too long, especially for those who need a car to go to work.
“While we know that the DVSA has measures in place to increase the number of practical tests, we really need to see the numbers increase beyond pre-pandemic levels in order to reduce overall wait times,” a- he added.
According to the DVSA, the average pass rate for driving tests over the past five years is 47%.
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