Rookie Drivers Face Eight Month Wait For Test

Mon 12th Apr 2021

A new report has revealed that learner drivers face a longer wait than first anticipated to take their driving test - with many unlikely to even get a chance to start driving in 2021.

The impact of three national lockdowns has put the brakes on many aspiring drivers, with lessons, theory and practical tests all postponed for months at a time and now a report from Marmalade, a hub for young and learner drivers, has found that with 1,160,000 drivers waiting to take a test - the wait could be eight months.

There has been a perfect storm of circumstances which have led to the long wait, which was initially thought to be five months at the most. A lack of available test slots has been compounded by a fall in the number of driving instructors operating as a business - while a baby boom in 2003/04 meant that last year saw a record number of 17-year-olds all eligible to start driving lessons.

Driving tests will resume on April 22nd, but only for those fortunate to be on a list having seen their original dates postponed. Marmalade’s analysis suggests that some who are learning to drive and ready to take a test may have to wait until February 2022 before they can pass their test.

“First, it’s worth noting the problem that the pandemic has caused,” the Marmalade report says. “We have campaigned extensively around the amount of money learners have lost through expired theory test certificates during the last 12 months. But as well as lost money, tuition has been paused for many and access to tests has been limited. In total, 2020 saw 149 days of delays, while in 2021 by the time tests restart, there will have been a further 112 days without driving tests. 

“According to the latest release of registered driving instructor data this month, there were 38,778 registered ADIs as of December 2020. A 2.34% decline on the previous year. In an average year, data from Statista shows there is on average 1.6 million driving tests taken in the UK. Using this figure, we can calculate that on average 133,333 tests are taken monthly, which works out at 4,444 per day.

“Based on these numbers and what we know about the number of delays in 2020 and 2021, this means there have been on average 662,222 tests delayed in 2020 and 497,778 in 2021. As tests restart in April and based on these figures, we estimate a backlog of 1,160,000 driving tests in the UK. This figure encompasses the whole picture, not just those that have been cancelled by the DVSA due to the pandemic as has been reported. Based on this average number of tests per year, our estimates represent a backlog of nearly 9 months - 8.7 to be exact.”