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InsureLearnerDriver | January 23, 2019

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The Great British Problem – Driving Test Waiting Times

The Great British Problem – Driving Test Waiting Times
George Trout
  • On August 9, 2016

Across the country, young drivers are outraged by the obscene waiting times they are having to endure. It’s not uncommon for a learner driver to have to wait up to 10 weeks for an available test date.


Why waiting times have increased

The reasons why waiting times have increased are:

  • Budget Cuts – due to budget cuts, there has been a decrease in the number of people that can be employed by the DVLA to monitor driving tests. Budget cuts have also led to a number of driving test centres across the country being closed down.
  • Examiners Retiring – A number of instructors are now reaching retirement age, so experienced instructors are leaving whilst no new instructors are coming in to replace them.
  • Economic Recovery – over the past few years, the British economy has recovered greatly since the 2008 recession. In 2008, less people were taking their driving test, as people couldn’t afford the tuition costs. Now the economy has strengthened, those who couldn’t afford to learn are now learning alongside the current generation of 17 year olds. This means demand for test slots is currently quite high.

Using the DVSA’s waiting time database, we looked at a learner driver currently living in Hayes, to find out just how long they would have to wait for a test slot. Out of the 3 closest test centres, 16 weeks was the shortest waiting period! It would seem finding a short waiting time is a difficult task indeed.

Impact on Learner Drivers

  • Theory test pass certificates only last 2 years. Some learners may take multiple tests before they pass. If learners are having to wait 3 months at a time for a test, there is a good chance their theory test certificate could expire before they pass.
  • Because learners are having to put their test attempts on hold, they may get bored of lessons and allow their practice to slip.
  • Learners may venture further away from their local test centre, in search of an earlier test date. If they do this, they may end up taking a test at a location with very unfamiliar roads.

Impact on Instructors

  • Because an instructor’s students have to wait to take their tests, it will undeniably mean their annual pass rates will decrease.
  • Instructors constantly have new students seeking out their tuition. With limited free time slots available, new students will likely take priority over those waiting for their test.
  • With limited test slots available, it is hard to co-ordinate a test date that suits both the learner and instructor (as you may have to use the instructor’s car on your test).

Learner driver student driving car with instuctor. happy and confident smiling girl

What’s being done?

In an effort to combat the long waiting times, the government is:

  1. Assigning examiners to where waiting times are high
  2. Cross-training examiners to be able to test multiple vehicle categories
  3. Adjusting working patterns to suit local needs
  4. Encouraging examiners to do extra hours

What should learners do?

  • Keep up your driving practice, but save money by going out with a friend or family member.
  • Ask a friend or family member to lend you their car for the test, if you don’t already have your own. This will give you more flexibility when choosing your driving test time/date.
  • Try calling the test centre directly to see if anybody has cancelled their test.

What should instructors do?

  • Prompt experienced students to practice at home. This will free up time slots for the instructor.
  • Establish a mid-way point standard, and suggest that when the learner meets that standard, they should consider booking their test.
  • There are plenty of online sites that will alert you of any cancelled driving test bookings. Instructors should use these to keep their students informed.

If you’re finding it hard to get a practical test date, don’t worry as most the country is too. The best advice we can give is to monitor your driving progress and estimate when you think you’d be ready to take your test. That way you can book it early.

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