DVSA’s battle against driving test delays: average wait time hits 20.4 weeks

Hour glass on calendar concept for time slipping away for important appointment date, schedule and deadline

The DVSA recently provided some insight into the latest driving test waiting time statistics and the measures the agency is taking to combat ongoing test supply issues.

The agency revealed that the current national average waiting time for a driving test is 20.4 weeks. A couple of weeks ago, it was revealed that the lengthy delays were brought on by the Covid backlog, which resulted in drivers paying hundreds of pounds for driving test appointments.

The long waiting times are due to a number of reasons, with one being that there has been an increase in demand for driving tests. As of writing, there are 550,000 learners booked in to have a driving test – up from around 150,000 before the pandemic. London and the South-East are particularly affected, with some drivers travelling hundreds of miles to take a test in another part of the UK.

The problem has also been exacerbated due to a series of strikes by examiners. In July, the government projected that around 25,000 driving tests had been cancelled and rebooked due to industrial action.

Another reason for the long waiting times that has been cited is due to people’s concern about not being able to book a test, which has led to a change in customers’ behaviour (i.e. customers booking tests much earlier in their learning to drive process).

Last month, it was reported that a freedom of information request highlighted how dozens of test centres were still reporting 24-week waits. Analysis by Labour researchers said the average waiting time for a driving test was 16 weeks, while 38% of test centres had 24-week waiting times.

The DVSA is taking measures to help reduce driving test waiting times, which include recruiting new driving examiners and carrying out overtime, including at weekends and on public holidays. The agency is also asking local driving test managers to return to testing for two days a week, buying back leave from driving examiners, and inviting recently retired driving examiners to return to work.

Loveday Ryder, DVSA Chief Executive, said: “We are taking all the measures we can to reduce driving test waiting times. This work, along with our examiner recruitment, is creating over 40,000 extra tests every month.

“We strongly urge learners only to book their driving test when they are ready to pass.”

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