Learner drivers are being warned there could be a lengthy wait before they get a chance to sit their driving test, with some people having to wait until next year.
The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) is currently dealing with a backlog due to the coronavirus restrictions which banned all tests from taking place for months on end.
The DVSA also blamed a vicious cycle caused when learners who were concerned about the backlog would book up slots for a test before they were actually prepared to take one.
According to an investigation by The Telegraph, at least five cities in the UK - including London and Birmingham - had no available slots up until November, which is the limit placed on the booking window.
An analysis of the DVSA centralised test booking website at the weekend revealed that London had no available test slots for at least 24 weeks, meaning those wishing to take a test would need to book in November and travel to another city, such as Peterborough, where they stand a chance of booking themselves a slot.
And it was a similar situation for other major cities, including Manchester and Bristol.
That’s not to say tests slots won’t become available, as cancellations or more instructors offering to sit tests could mean some tests could be booked before November.
The agency has said the average wait time for a test was only 14 weeks, and that it is committed to bringing this down to nine by the end of the year.
It said to tackle demand it was recruiting an extra 300 examiners as well as widening the hours that a test can take place; offering overtime and annual leave buy back for examiners and inviting recently retired examiners to conduct tests.
However, the DVSA acknowledged to The Telegraph that some learners will not get the chance to sit a test until 2023.
Edmund King, the president of the AA, told The Telegraph: “The backlog does not appear to be improving. It’s incredibly difficult for young people to plan their future.
“Learning to drive is incredibly important to the start of adult life. Unfortunately for young people that freedom, that rite of passage is being taken away from them.”
Under current rules, learners can only book one test at a time, so if they do fail on an attempt they’ll be whacked with a lengthy wait before they can book another.
The Driving Instructor Association has warned that some people are booking tests using specialist websites that have an algorithm which is able to snag slots as soon as they become available, making the problem worse.
In a statement, DVSA’s Chief Executive Loveday Ryder, told LADbible: "We are doing all we can to provide as many tests as possible so we can get our services back to normal. I know learners will be keen to take their test now, but it is important that they are properly prepared for their test and don’t take it before they are ready.
“With more than half of candidates failing, and demand currently extremely high for tests, learners should only take their test when they are confident they can pass.
"This will help them to avoid a lengthy wait for a retest and help us by not adding to the driving test waiting list.”
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