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Long Time Learner – Learner Drivers Facing More Misery

Learner drivers have faced costly and frustrating delays in accessing tests since the COVID pandemic began.

Prior to the Lockdown measures, around 1.6 million tests took place year on year, this dropped to just 436,000 in the year 2020 – 2021. The capacity to take tests has greatly reduced due to safety restrictions, isolating staff and a reduced number of Testers. DVSA is currently looking to recruit a further 300 Examiners to help build back capacity. It has also been announced that Test Slots will be opening at weekends and on Bank Holidays to try and clear the backlog.

Learners are reporting waiting times of around 4 months for the theory test, but a further 10 months for the practical test, sometimes in areas outside of their local vicinity where they are unfamiliar with the roads, adding difficulty to an already stressful situation.

Pre pandemic, the pass rate was around 47% but has risen to 50.5% on the most recent figures. With half of learners needing to take a second practical test, delays of almost a year are concerning especially considering that the theoretical test is only valid for 24 months, no extensions were given despite the immense pressure on the system.

DVSA have not been able to offer much hope above the promise of recruitment. With the backlog ever increasing, drivers have simply been urged to hold off booking tests until they are sure they are ready and do not waste a valuable test slot or end up at the back of the queue for a second test. It is hard to see how the situation is going to be resolved effectively, when considering the numbers of tests taking place. Fears grow for a generation of teenagers being held back from taking up development and employment opportunities which would have required a driving licence.

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