Learner drivers struggling to get appointments for their driving test may be under the impression that it is all due to the backlog created by Covid lockdowns.
A driving test should cost between £62 and £75 however many new drivers are opting to pay at least another £200 on top to 3rd party companies who can offer to reduce the wait time massively, rocketing the total test cost by nearly 300%.
The national average waiting time is 14 weeks. The Telegraph recently reported in June that London, Birmingham, Manchester, Nottingham and Bristol have no driving test availability until early November.
What have the DVSA said about the issue?
A DVSA spokesperson stated in June 2022 “We are doing all we can to provide learners with as many tests as possible and bring average waiting times down to less than 10 weeks by the end of the year.
“To tackle the high demand for tests we have introduced a number of measures including, recruiting an additional 300 examiners, conducting out of hours testing such as at weekends and on public holidays and asking all those qualified to conduct tests.”
But is this the main issue and will it help?
When the number of ‘no shows to allotted appointments’ since the start of the Covid has increased by over 100% to 6,000 wasted tests each month, according to the DVSA themselves, it doesn’t seem that an extra 300 examiners will touch the sides. It also seems that the 3rd party companies can’t even sell all the appointment slots they purchase which sounds criminal doesn’t it with so many disappointed learner drivers who would jump at the chance to fill those slots.
3rd party companies have been causing chaos. They purchase large blocks of test appointments using automated software and re-selling to the un-suspecting learner driver for over £200 in some cases.
It may seem the best way to jump the queue for each individual test but the BBC have given an insight to the real cause of the continuing backlog and how the un-suspecting public are helping to maintain this shady practice.
“The BBC was able to register as a fake driving school, giving it access to a part of the DVSA booking system not available to most learner drivers.
It suggests that anyone with instructors’ access could purchase a test – either one in the distant future or a cancellation – and then sell it on at a premium by swapping appointments” reports motor trade authority Honest John.
The DVSA speaking in June continued “the technology that supports driving test bookings and instructor registration is old and not as flexible as it needs to be” and have accepted that changes will be made “We’re going to replace it with a new driver services platform”.
But good news is finally announced today. After immense pressure it seems the DVSA can finally give some hope.
They have reported that they have now blocked almost 5,000 driving test booking accounts which we hope will slowly help to reduce the waiting time for a test appointment. It may take some time to get down to pre-Covid lockdown levels but the DVSA has also announced some additional initiatives which they believe will help the current backlog down to around 9 weeks.
Ready to Pass?
Nervousness, silly mistake’s or being marked too harshly are the top reasons drivers give as to why they failed their driving test, according to DVSA many learners “do not understand the standard that’s required to pass”.
Their new campaign called ‘Ready to Pass?’, has been designed to help reduce the amount of failed tests, it provides advice on:
- finding an approved driving instructor
- how to monitor and
- check progress of your driving lessons and private practice
- when to take a mock test
- how to manage your test day nerves
- and provides a checklist of the things that learners should do before taking their driving test.
As well as the campaign, the DVSA has put several measures in place to ensure more tests are available to book, including: recruiting more driving examiners and inviting recently retired examiners to come back; offering existing driving examiners overtime; and providing more tests at weekends and bank holidays.
It said that these have contributed to an estimated extra 425,000 tests since April 2021, and it intends to bring the wait time down to nine weeks or less by December 2022.
DVSA also reported that one in 22 learner drivers do not turn up for their driving test appointment.
1,100 learners each month are not able to complete their test due to: arriving late, they turn up without their provisional driving licence and some don’t even have a car that meets driving test rules.
The DVSA has launched a text message service which they hope will help, it will send test date reminders, which underline the importance of correct arrival times and dates, provisional licence and a suitable vehicle in which to take their test.
‘With the pass rate below 50 per cent, many learners should be more prepared, and failed tests could be used by another candidate who is ready, learner drivers should be honest about their chances of a pass and if they’re not ready should re-arrange’ the DVSA said.