Driving test waiting times continue to grow. As I write this on August 11th 2016 the earliest driving test available at my local test centre is December 7th! You need to know about this when booking lessons or planning a course of driving lessons. On this page I’m going to explain why the waiting times are so bad and what’s been done about it.
These delays are affecting everyone across the UK but it’s worse in some places than others. Sometimes when the waiting times go over 16 weeks they stop taking bookings altogether and you can’t even book a test at all.
So what’s causing all these delays? Let me explain in both videos and writing.
The DVSA had their budget cut when the recession hit and as examiners retired or left the job they weren’t replaced. As a result of this there are now fewer examiners working than ever before.
When the recession ended the number of learners increased sharply. You could argue that was predictable. More people are now learning than ever before which in turn means more people are trying to book driving tests.
The DVSA has been in dispute with driving test examiners over pay and conditions for years now but the situation has recently gotten worse.
The DVSA are saying that they have offered examiners a pay rise to do more tests per day to ease the delays. The examiners are saying they haven’t had a pay rise, they don’t want to work longer hours and the DVSA should employ more examiners. This has resulted in examiners working to rule and striking. In turn the DVSA is said to have disciplined examiners by sending them home without pay and neither side will back down.
Learners are caught in the crossfire with driving tests being cancelled with as little as 24 hours notice. The alleged purpose of this is to cause maximum disruption and bring attention to the problem. Driving instructors are also having standards checks cancelled which is hugely inconvenient as they’re done by invitation only and are hard enough to get in the first place.
When will this come to an end? One of the first driving tests I ever had booked in 2003 was cancelled due to strike action. Thirteen years on and while it’s not caused by the same thing, it’s still a problem.
Fewer driving instructors
The number of driving instructors is falling slightly which means a longer waiting time to even start lessons.
Test locations closing down
There are now less test locations available after the high street store Halfords surprisingly dropped their deal with the DVSA. Only a few years ago they agreed to conduct driving tests from branches of their shops using the car park as a starting point.
Profiteers block booking tests
Whenever there’s a crisis someone sees a chance to make money. There are now people that have set up computer systems to scan the driving test booking site and book every available test as soon as they come up. They are then selling the tests on to pupils who desperately need them for massively increased prices of £100+ instead of the usual £62.
As cowboy driving schools learn of this they are all jumping on the bandwagon and booking any test they can before selling them to pupils at a much higher price than usual.
What can we do about the waiting times?
One thing you can do is to sign an online petition calling for something to be done about this problem.