The UK is in the middle of a driving test crisis. The sheer number of tests that were cancelled due to Covid in 2021 has led to huge shortages for learner drivers. The average waiting time to get a driving test in the UK is now six months. This is despite it approaching winter in the UK where learner driving demand is usually lower.
The shortage of driving tests in the UK has been largely influenced by a number of factors, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has led to a testing backlog as testing was suspended for months, which has led to a surge in demand as learners need to book tests quickly once testing resumes. The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) faces resource constraints, including reduced numbers of inspectors due to health and safety protocols, further limiting available testing sites.
Additionally, social distancing measures implemented at testing centers have reduced testing center capacity, resulting in fewer tests being performed each day. Reduced capacity combined with high demand has led to a shortage of available testing sites.
The DVLA are planning on putting things into place to resolve the driving examiner shortage.
They have introduced a number of measures to address driving test shortages and backlogs caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the DVLA's specific actions may have changed since then. Measures and strategies implemented or considered by them have been listed as:
- Recruiting more examiners: The DVLA is committed to recruiting and training more driving examiners to tackle the backlog of driving tests.
- Expanding test center capacity: Work to expand the capacity of existing test centers and open new test centers to accommodate more exam slots.
- Increase exam times: Extend exam times into evenings and weekends to provide more places for learners.
- Online booking system: The DVLA encourages learners to use the online booking system to find available places and manage their bookings efficiently.
- Monitoring and Analysis: The agency closely monitors the situation and analyzes data to identify areas of highest need and prioritize them.
- New Appointment Notifications: Learners are encouraged to sign up for notifications to receive updates about newly available testing locations, including cancellations.