The Driving and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) has announced that driving tests can resume from 22 April and theory tests will restart 10 days earlier, on 12 April.
Driving lessons will also be permitted again from 12 April in England and Wales, where motorcycle and car-and-trailer tests will be allowed to recommence from this date.
The rules are slightly different in Scotland: lessons can resume on 26 April, with driving tests slated for a return on 6 May. Both of these dates are the earliest possible for a return and are subject to change.
Driving tests were suspended at the beginning of the year when the national lockdown was introduced to combat rising Covid-19 cases.
There is likely to be a long backlog of would-be drivers wanting to take their tests. When tests were given the go-ahead to resume last year following a previous suspension, the DVSA’s website crashed due to overwhelming demand.
“The announcement that learners will be able to restart driving lessons and book tests is another step towards resuming some ‘normality’,” said Alex Kindred, car insurance expert at confused.com. “While demand is high for lessons and tests and many are keen to get back in the driving seat, for some, it must be daunting, having spent time away from the wheel.
“Taking a driving test, be it for the first or fifth time, is always nerve-wracking, and some learners might have lost confidence during the lockdown period. This is why lessons have been planned to resume first. These extra lessons will hopefully give new drivers the boost they need to pass with flying colours.”
Learner drivers will have to follow strict rules in order to take their tests. They shouldn’t arrive more than five minutes before their appointment time, and must thoroughly clean the inside of their car before the test takes place. Examiners will also conduct their own cleaning of various surfaces.
Face coverings are mandatory unless drivers have a health reason for not wearing one. At least one window will have to be open on each side of the vehicle throughout the test in order to promote airflow: the DVSA advises drivers to dress appropriately for the weather.
Examiners are encouraged to wear disposable gloves as well as face coverings, and driving instructors will not be permitted to sit in on tests, as is usually allowed.
In order to limit the amount of time spent in the car, a ‘serious or dangerous fault’ that causes the driver to fail will result in the immediate end of tests, with drivers directed straight back to the test centre.