Some learner drivers forced to wait up to 10 months for tests amid Covid backlog

Recruitment drive for 300 examiners reportedly under way to help clear backlog

Emily Atkinson
Saturday 22 January 2022 22:08 GMT

A huge backlog of driving tests caused by Covid lockdowns and restrictions has left some learners waiting up to 10 months for their practical assessment.

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) said they have been actively recruiting extra examiners to make more tests available and help meet the demand following UK lockdowns where testing and lessons could not take place.

A recruitment drive for 300 examiners is currently under way, reports the BBC. It also claims the DVSA is urging recently retired examiners to return to help break the logjam.

One 17-year-old student from Morfa Nefyn, north Wales, told the broadcaster she hoped to take her test at the nearest centre in Gwynedd where she had received her lessons – but was not able to get a booking there for 10 months.

Aerona Rowlands said she is instead being forced to make the 80-mile journey to Aberystwyth.

“It’s really far and I don’t know the area so taking my test is going to be more difficult than it would have been,” she said.

“My mum has had to book three days off work to take me there so I can get familiar with the area.

“I feel really stressed and nervous now but I think if I could do it in Pwllheli then I don’t think I would be anywhere near as nervous.”

In response, the DVSA has said that learners can practice on any roads and are not restricted to learning near a driving test centre – adding that learners should be “properly prepared” to drive safely on any road and “not just test centre routes”.

According to most recent figures from the DVSA, the number of practical tests taken in both the UK and in Wales had dropped by about 70 per cent between 2019-20 and 2020-21.

However, the number of exams available this year is now nearing pre-pandemic levels, with almost 700,000 tests across the UK between April and September 2021.

The DVSA’s 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. I know learners will be keen to take their test now, but it is important that they are properly prepared for their test and don’t take it before they are ready.

“With more than half of candidates failing, and demand currently extremely high for tests, learners should only take their test only when they are confident they can pass. This will help them to avoid a lengthy wait for a retest and help us by not adding to the driving test waiting list.”

The DVSA has said it is unable to provide an accurate waiting time for tests as it does not have a waiting list.

It added that six months’ worth of test slots are currently available for booking across the UK.

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