As lockdown restrictions ease across the UK, it was announced that driving lessons were able to recommence earlier this month, with driving tests becoming available ten days later from April 22nd. But with an estimated backlog of over 1.1 million untaken tests, both those looking to book, as well as the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) face increasing pressure to find and create test and lesson availability to support the growing demand.

According to the Transport Secretary, those who fail their test face an average of 17 weeks waiting time before they can book a new slot, sparking growing concerns amongst centres as they struggle with a backlog of around 420,000 tests booked until August. Sadie McGrath, a student at the Lady Eleanor Holles School, noted that she “reached a point where I felt confident enough to take my test, until lockdown restrictions meant it was delayed, and I’ve had to continue lessons before I feel prepared”.

In an effort to shorten waiting times, it was announced that the DVSA would create extra test slots at weekends and Bank Holidays. Fundamentally, encouraging learners to pass first time is vital in easing this backlog, with the DVSA Chief Executive announcing a campaign to incentivize learners to take their test, only once they are confident they can pass. Having already run a successful recruitment campaign for driving examiners, they have received over 5,000 applications and are currently in the process of reviewing applications and organising interviews.

Those planning to take their test in the coming months are faced with new safety measures, including the wearing of a facemask for its duration, alongside the recommendation of a rapid lateral flow test before the test as a precaution. Ultimately, the DVSA is striving to reduce the accumulation of learners looking to take their test over the coming months with a view to return to normality as soon as possible.