In previous years, the main concern for learner drivers was the cost of new driver insurance once they passed their driving test, but the pandemic has significantly impacted new drivers in new ways. Around 450,000 driving tests have been cancelled since the beginning of the first lockdown. Figures from the DVSA showed that only 809,509 practical tests were taken in the UK throughout 2020: a 50% decrease on tests taken the previous year.
This trend continued into 2021, with only 1,308 learners able to take their practical driving test in the UK between January and March. Throughout the year, those wishing to take a practical test have struggled to make a booking, with many having to wait for months. While driving licences may be becoming increasingly digital, no amount of work on a booking system has helped with these delays.
Between January and September 2021, a total of 693,990 tests were conducted, a sign that the UK is getting back on its feet. However, although test numbers are rising, delays are expected to continue long into 2022, with waiting lists of up to 10 months being reported in January 2022.
DVSA chief Executive, Loveday Ryder, advised learners to avoid rushing to take their test simply because of the backlog: ‘I know learners will be keen to take their test now, but it is important that candidates are properly prepared and don’t rush to take it. With more than half of candidates failing, and demand currently extremely high for tests, learners should only take their test only when they are confident they can pass. This will help them to avoid a lengthy wait for a retest and help us by not adding to the backlog of tests.’
Check out our infographic below showing some of the key stats on driving test delays during the pandemic.
This blog is part of our 2022 ‘Driving Force’ research on how driving habits have changed since the pandemic. To read the full report, click here.