Report: Driving tests delayed eight months as lockdown eases

The three national lockdowns implemented over the previous year have caused a driving test backlog of around eight months, according to a recent report.

It suggests that more than 1,160,000 British learner drivers are currently waiting to take their tests – enough people to fill Wembley Stadium 13 times over or form a queue twice the length of the M1.

Data from learner insurance company Marmalade shows that the problem has been compounded by the number of driving instructors declining in the same period.

With just 38,778 Approved Driving Instructors (AIDs) working in the UK, instructors are said to be operating over capacity by 56%. The average instructor is now working with an average of around 30 pupils.

While driving tests are set to resume again from 22 April in England and 26 April in Scotland, Marmalade says that “some learners will likely be waiting until February 2022” to take the practical test.

This wait could be even longer since both of these dates remain subject to change, in line with the government’s cautious approach to lockdown easing.

When tests briefly resumed last summer, demand was so high that the DVSA’s booking platform crashed. Even while it was working, frustrated candidates faced a queue of more than 150,000 users trying to book.

The DVSA told Autocar: “We are doing all we can to provide as many tests as possible as restrictions continue to ease.

“Whilst we appreciate that many learners are keen to take their test straight away, with more than half of candidates failing, and demand currently extremely high for tests, they should only take their test when they are confident they can pass.”

Assuming that tests do resume at the end of April as planned, examiners and drivers will have to follow strict rules.

Not only must the learner clean their car thoroughly before the test, but they must also wear a face covering and have at least one window open on each side of the car throughout the test.

Examiners will be asked to wear face masks and disposable gloves. Driving instructors are usually allowed to sit in on tests but are currently banned from doing so.

For the full report and analysis by Marmalade, click here.