Loveday Ryder, the Chief Executive of the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), attended the Transport Select Committee on 5 July 2023 to discuss the agency’s efforts in handling the surging demand for driving tests. The agency revealed that approximately one million tests were missed during the pandemic, leading to a significant backlog. Despite efforts to increase test availability, waiting times continue to be high. Three main factors contributing to the delays include increased demand fuelled by a stronger economy, sustained industrial action, and a shift in customer booking behaviour due to low confidence in test availability.
Since the end of COVID-19 restrictions, the DVSA has provided over a million additional driving tests to address a backlog caused by the pandemic. However, demand remains high, and waiting times are expected to persist into 2024. Changes in customer booking behaviour due to low confidence in test availability have also contributed to extended waiting times. Learners are now booking their practical test immediately after passing their theory test, sometimes even before having practical driving lessons. This often results in test date changes as learners aren’t ready, making it more difficult for test-ready individuals to secure a slot.
During her attendance at the Transport Select Committee, Ryder emphasised the need for further research to better understand and tackle these challenges. More details about the DVSA’s strategies and future plans will be shared on the blog, and readers are encouraged to keep abreast of these updates.