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In 2024, 5 million learner drivers predicted to compete for only 1.8 million available driving test slots

By Mathilda Bartholomew | February 20, 2024

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The findings suggest that the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) is operating with a capacity one-third lower than necessary

In 2024, 5 million learner drivers predicted to compete for only 1.8 million available driving test slots

Disheartening news awaits frustrated learner drivers attempting to schedule their driving tests, as projections for 2024 indicate a staggering 177% surge in demand, surpassing the available capacity.

Marmalade, a specialist in young driver insurance, conducted an analysis of official data, revealing that an estimated 5,004,282 learners will vie for a mere 1,808,148 test slots this year. The findings suggest that the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) is operating with a capacity one-third lower than necessary, paving the way for a significant test backlog extending into 2025.

Breaking down the statistics further, monthly demand for driving tests in the UK reaches 195,982, while the DVSA's average monthly capacity is limited to 144,429 test slots.

In January alone, 527,722 test slots were booked for the first half of the year, intensifying the backlog as demand consistently outpaces the DVSA's efforts to alleviate waiting times.  

Despite DVSA Chief Executive Loveday Ryder's call for learners to book tests only when fully prepared, instructors persist in urging candidates to secure test dates promptly, potentially rescheduling if not adequately ready.

Mark Steeples, an instructor, advises learners to book tests after completing their theory but emphasises the importance of taking the test only when confident and ready to pass. He anticipates no return to pre-Covid test availability.

Marmalade's Head of Insure Relations, Chris Lawson, highlights the ongoing impact of the backlog, emphasising the significant gap between testing capacity and high demand.

He stated, “Learner drivers up and down the UK are being impacted by this backlog and a fundamental disparity between the capacity for testing and this high demand. Until testing capacity can increase, we don’t believe that the backlog will ever end, it will only get worse and learners will continue to face a lottery when it comes to securing a test.” 

“This backlog and the pent-up demand opens up learners to a risk of exploitation as third parties take advantage of that desperation, which we’ve seen in recent months.” 

The situation underscores the need for urgent measures to address testing capacity issues and provide a more equitable testing process for learners across the UK.

You find Marmalade's full data and research here - https://www.wearemarmalade.co.uk/driver-hub/news/driving-test-backlog-might-never-end

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