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Learners wait five-months to take driving test as DVSA struggles to cope with demand

Due to a surge in applicants who were unable to afford lessons during the credit-crunch, learner drivers are facing a five month wait to take their driving tests in some parts of the UK.

According to the AA, the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) the Government body responsible for managing driving tests, is also struggling to cope with recent budget cuts.

A spokesman for the AA said: “We are seeing lots of posts on social media from frustrated pupils who want to get on with their working lives and want to experience the freedom of the road, but are being held back by the DVSA’s failure to cope with demand.”

“Our concern is the DVSA have been caught out by the arguably predictable sudden surge in pupil numbers.”

The UK’s worst hit test centres are Milton Keynes, Basingstoke, King’s Lynn, Aylesbury and Norwich where there are 18-20 week waiting periods.

A Basingstoke driving instructor told the Basingstoke Gazette that his students had been forced to book their tests in other areas.

“They have to go and take their driving test in an area that they don't know,” he said.

“Plus it costs them more money because they have to get there. It's very frustrating. I feel so sorry for the pupils. They are waiting until Christmas or aren't able to book a test at all,” he added. Another driving instructor from the area, Andy Maher told the Daily Mail: “I was asked to book a test for a customer and there were no dates being offered at all.”

“Also, the centre has had only one examiner working on some days rather than the four examiners that the centre has capacity for.”

The DVSA has admitted there is an increase in waiting times and apologised for the inconvenience caused, putting the increase down to a combination of three factors:

  • The economic recovery – more people are taking driving lessons again
  • More examiners retiring
  • A surge in people in their 20s taking tests, after leaving it longer to learn to drive

According to the DVSA’s statistics, the number of car driving tests between January and March this year was up 407,000 (5.2%) compared to 2014 and it says that demand is increasing.

The organisation says that it did anticipate an increase in demand and that an increasing number of its examiners were approaching retirement age, but that it had struggled to recruit new examiners.

The DVSA says that it has another recruitment campaign planned for October and in the meantime it has been:

  • Monitoring waiting times and future demands
  • Making sure driving examiners are working in the areas they’re needed the most
  • Training more examiners in other test categories to meet local needs better
  • Changing local working patterns to improve service
  • Encouraging examiners to work additional hours in order to provide more tests

Do you know a young driver who is waiting to take a driving test? Have you experienced unusually long waiting times? Let us know in the comments section below:

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