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 In Driving Lessons, Driving Test, News

The first word out of everyone’s mouths at the moment is Covid 19. This blog unfortunately is no different. Covid 19 has, for the foreseeable future, changed the face of driving tests in the UK. With around 18 months of lessons and tests being delayed or postponed there has inevitably been, and still is, a massive backlog.

There have been around half a million learner drivers who have experienced stop, start lessons and this has extended learning times by many months. Like every skill gained it’s important to keep practicing to maintain and improve levels of competency. Many learners in March 2020 were test ready or getting close to test standard and many of these have had multiple emails from the DVSA cancelling tests since then. I personally have a few students (correct as of 1st July 2021!)

Waiting for their 1st driving test

Who are still waiting for their 1st driving test who come under this category. Every driving instructor feels so sorry for these students.

We as a collective have been trying to prioritise these students to keep them up to standard and to keep them motivated. It’s very easy to lose heart when you are 17 or 18 years old, feeling that they will never pass. Their time will come but the hardest part of being an instructor at the moment is trying to take the pressure off these students to pass. We all know if they do fail the test they will have to wait many more months to retake it. This pressure of passing often gets to the student and a few fail the test simply due to this, and not because they aren’t good enough to pass. Coping with this pressure, alongside all the other pressures Covid 19 has put upon them, is difficult to do.

Every instructor is on their side. Speaking to many examiners and test centre managers they are all on the side of the pupil too. Every examiner understands the situation and is willing the student to pass too, contrary to popular myths. Unfortunately, their job is centred around safety and they will still fail the student if there is a critical safety issue. Its important to note that many examiners have children who are in the same situation who fully understand the current test backlog nightmare.

Backlog of driving tests

The students who were learning prior to the 1st lockdown are only partially responsible to the massive backlog of tests. This is because over the last 12 months theres another years worth of young people who have now turned 17 and wish to learn to drive as well. There is an estimated half a million new young drivers in this category to add to the backlog. So this means that around 1 million people are currently looking for tests. There simply are no tests available and if there are some they are snapped up immediately. According to the DVSA website tests are already booking for December 2021!

The DVSA is trying to eat into this backlog by training more examiners, which takes many months. They are also introducing more tests per day, keeping to current Covid 19 safety guidelines and many test centres are starting to conduct tests on Saturdays and Sundays as well.

Many instructors and examiners alike are predicting that this backlog is here to stay for many, many more months. Some are predicting it might take years to recover. We all need to get used to this new normal. After all, it’s not just driving tests that have suffered over the pandemic.

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