More than 500,000 learner drivers waiting for tests amid ‘huge backlog’

Many are still struggling to book their tests without waiting a number of months

<p>Don’t sit your test until you think you will pass, is the advice for students </p>

Don’t sit your test until you think you will pass, is the advice for students

More than half a million learner drivers are waiting to take their test amid a huge backlog, figures reveal.

AA Driving School, which obtained data from the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), said the queue for tests is “too long” and called for a “clear plan” to address the issue.

Driving tests were prohibited during coronavirus lockdowns, leading to a backlog of candidates.

Many people are still struggling to book a test without waiting several months.

DVSA figures for 22 October show 538,832 tests were booked for the following 24 weeks.

AA Driving School interim managing director Robert Cowell said: “Learners were left disappointed when the government decided not to extend theory test certificates that expired in the lockdowns, as they did with MOTs, and it’s disheartening to see that the practical test backlog reached half a million tests this year.

“Driving instructors adapted to make lessons safer when restrictions lifted, but the DVSA has still not caught up enough to meet demand and questions need to be asked about what support they can get to ensure we don’t end up in the same position if restrictions come back.”

The DVSA has announced a series of measures to boost test slots, including holding tests outside normal hours, including on weekends and bank holidays, launching a campaign to recruit more examiners and asking recently retired examiners to return.

It has also urged learners to only take their test when they are confident they can pass.

Latest data shows the pass rate rose from 46.4 per cent between 2015 and 2020 to 49.6 per cent between July and September this year.

DVSA 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 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.”

PA

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