posted 3 years ago

Learner Drivers Wait Months For Test as Centres Struggle To Cope

Learner drivers forced to wait up to four months to sit the practical test as centres struggle to cope with the rise in demand.

Four Month Wait To Sit Practical Driving Test

Learner drivers face a four month wait to sit the practical test following a rise in applicants now the economy has recovered from the credit crunch, the Automobile Association theorises. A strong economy ensures that more wannabe motorists can earn/borrow money for lessons, the practical and theory test and to purchase  vehicles. During 2012, the number of people that applied for a provisional licence was 813,092 - but this rose to 938,765 in 2014. The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) - the government body responsible for managing the test - is also struggling to cope with a recent cut in its budget, the breakdown specialist suggests.

Automobile Association's Perspective

An Automobile Association spokesperson explains: “We are seeing lots of posts on social media from frustrated pupils who want to get on with their working lives - and want to experience the freedom of the road - but are being held back by the DVSA’s failure to cope with demand”. In the most extreme cases, test centres cannot offer a date at all – even 1 several months in the future. The spokesperson concludes: “Our concern is the DVSA has been caught out by the arguably predictable sudden surge in pupil numbers.”

DVSA's Perspective

The DVSA – the Daily Mail reports – acknowledges that waiting times for the practical test are higher than recent years and that the economy is a factor. It explains, however, that its problems are exacerbated by a rise in the number of examiners retiring. Head of Operations, Phil Lloyd, says the body is working to minimise waiting times and is ”in the process of recruiting more examiners.”

Instructors' Perspective

Derek Wormald, Chairman of the Milton Keynes Approved Driving Instructors Association, says that the waiting times are “unprecedented”. He adds: “I’ve got pupils who are trying to pass a test and they can’t even get a date. When you start going past a quarter-of-a-year wait, it becomes fairly crazy.” He concludes: “I’m sure a few people have retired but in all fairness that’s nothing new.”

Long waiting times to sit the practical test put pressure on instructors as well as students. Andy Maher - who runs a driving school in Basingstoke - explains: ‘I was asked to book a test for a customer and there were no dates being offered at all”. He adds: “Also, the centre has had only one examiner working on some days rather than the four examiners that the centre has capacity for.”