According to the Driver Vehicle and Standards Agency (DVSA), the average wait time for a driving test is 14 weeks. However, in the most affected areas it is at least 24 weeks, which is as far as testing is available.
Statistics from the DVSA show that the number of tests performed between April 2020 and March 2021 decreased by 73% from the previous year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This has caused wait times to skyrocket and means most people who want to take a test won’t be able to do so until next year.
Iram Khan, a driving instructor based in Ilford, east London, said: “It’s really frustrating because the students are ready for the tests but there are no dates for six to eight months. . “
One of her students, Amisha Patel, says that for her, passing her driver’s license would give her independence and security.
“I want to drive for my independence – not having to depend on public transport and Ubers,” Amisha says.
“Everything we see in the news right now is happening to young girls – I want to drive for my own safety. I think the lockdown taught me that I have to drive because I couldn’t get from A to B. “
In an attempt to reduce the backlog, the DVSA proposed increasing the number of tests performed by examiners from seven per day to eight. However, 92% of drivers elected by the public and commercial services union (PCS) voted against the proposal and plan to go on a two-day strike.
Mark Serwotka, secretary general of the PCS, says the proposal of eight tests per day is not safe.
“Seven tests a day is already very stressful,” he says. “These are tough jobs that require skills – people have to be alert and it can be dangerous to take them on the roads. “
He adds that the proposal would offer “less value for money” for the candidate because the tests would have to be shortened.
But DVSA chief executive Loveday Ryder said the planned strike was “disappointing” because the proposal could unlock 5,000 more tests per month.
“Safely reducing wait times for driving exams will help the national recovery effort and we are taking action to provide thousands of learner drivers with the essential driving exams they need to access employment, education, health and social activities, ”she said.