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UK Learners Wait 4+ Months for Driving Tests

Learner drivers across the UK have been waiting upwards of six months for driving tests to become available. According to the Government’s Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency as of October 16, the current national average waiting time for a driving test is 18.8 weeks, but many learners have found it to be much longer. Driving test waiting times and the demand for tests are a lot higher than they were pre-COVID, as 850,000 tests were cancelled during lockdown, according to the BBC.


Lara, 17, who lives in Sussex, said: “In October I booked a test for March, but it was all the way in Aberdeen. I eventually managed to get a cancellation for April that was closer to me.”


Katie, 17, also from Sussex, said: “I recently booked a test far away in Liverpool for March, and I can’t get a cancellation closer to me – they go in seconds.”


Some learners end up taking their tests in the far-flung destinations they booked them in, due to the lack of availability in places where the demand is high. The Daily Mail reported that a learner driver in London opted for ‘driving test tourism’ and booked a test in Cornwall, making the 260-mile trip into a mini break. If learners like Katie, who booked her test 200+ miles away, do not get a cancellation, they may be forced to do take part in ‘driving test tourism’.


The high demand has led to driving tests being booked in bulk and resold for profit, as some learner drivers have paid more than double the DVSA rate for a practical test, the BBC has found. Companies will bulk-buy tests and sell them at highly inflated rates to profit from desperate learners who have no other options.


Transport Minister Richard Holden MP told the House of Commons the DVSA “will continue to take steps to block cancellation services from accessing the booking system.” They hope to make the system fairer this way.


The DVSA reported that they have implemented certain measures to try and reduce the backlog in the demand for driving tests. These include conducting tests outside of regular hours, buying back annual leave from driving examiners, and inviting recently retired examiners to return to work while the demand is so high.


For now, learners, like Lara and Katie, are forced to wait, to travel hundreds of miles, or fight for the few cancellations that are available.

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