Research has shown that in one year, the backlog of driving test bookings for the UK tripled due to pandemic.

The backlog of eager learners grew from 147.716 to 592.987, comparing 31 Aug 2020 to 31 Aug 2021 according to the AA Driving School.

This is despite the fact that pass rates have been higher in recent months and additional measures being taken by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency to help clear the roadblock of new drivers. 

The backlog of driving tests in the UK quadrupled in the last year, new data has revealed

According to new data, the UK’s backlog in driving test has quadrupled since last year.

Driver tests and lessons were suspended during last year’s lockdowns. These disruptions will be continued in 2021. 

In just one month, the backlog of 147.716 learners awaiting practical tests at August 2020 grew to 377.156 by September 2020.

The DVSA declared that it will make an additional 15,000 to 20,000 test slots per month to help speed up exams so more drivers can get their license.

Additional measures included offering exams on weekends, public holidays, and overtime to examiners.

The company also ran a recruitment campaign for 300 additional test examiners. It asked qualified driving testers to come back to work, and even retired examiners.

However, the backlog is not decreasing between June and Aug 2021 as shown by figures provided to AA Driving Schools and shared with This is Money. 

It actually increased by 75.076 students, in spite of the additions.

According to the DVSA the extending wait list does not reflect the fact that only half of test takers pass the exam. 

A month ago, the DVSA stated: “[Because]A little over half of the applicants [are]Failure to pass their practical exam is a sign that demand for these tests is high. Learners should not take the test until they feel confident. 

There is a greater percentage of test-takers than normal.

Department for Transport Statistics show that the average pass rate from 2015 to 2020 had been 46.4 percent. The most recent data for 2021 indicates that the current pass rate stands at 51.6 percent. 

According to the DVSA, 538.832 applicants had booked a practical exam within the 24-week window. However, this was based on test slots and not individual students. In some cases businesses may reserve test dates or cancel them later. 

The backlog for all practical driving tests has soared over the past year due to delays to lessons and exams returning during the pandemic

Due to the delays in lessons and exams returned during the pandemic, the backlog of practical driving test has increased dramatically over the last year.

DVSA took action in June to make 15,000 to 20,000 more tests available each month, yet the backlog of learners waiting to sit their driving exam increased by 75,000 by the end of August

Despite taking action by DVSA in June to offer 15,000 to 20,000 extra driving exams each month, the waitlist for drivers who are unable to pass their exam increased to 75,000 by August. 

Robert Cowell, AA Driving School’s Interim Managing director stated: “The numbers show what we have heard from learners throughout this pandemic: The queue for tests are long and it needs more to be addressed.

The government did not extend the theory test certificates expired during lockdowns. This disappointed the learners. It is disheartening that practical tests have accumulated to half a billion tests in this year’s backlog.

‘Driving instructors adapted lessons to make them safer after restrictions were removed, but the DVSA is still behind in meeting demand. It’s important to ask questions about how they can help us avoid being back in that situation if we are put under restrictions.

The DVSA asks learners to only take their tests when they’re confident that they will pass. 

Although this would reduce backlog, pass rates are higher than usual so it is evident that learners are becoming more cautious before they take their test.

“Although there were measures taken this summer to help the test booking system (e.g. hiring more examiners and opening more slots for test takers), demand remains high. There needs to be an action plan.

This is Money previously reported that learner drivers have spent an estimated £12million to fast track practical tests after the backlog. 

The research from Direct Line Motor Insurance revealed many were willing to pay additional premiums of up to £60 to bring forward their test. 

It added that some driving instructors have been charging up to £122 per test, a 97 per cent premium for learners to book their tests through them. 


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