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UK driving test wait times surge despite DVSA promises

By Mathilda Bartholomew | June 20, 2024

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This year, 51% of test centres have seen increased wait times, and 93% have longer waits than the pre-pandemic average.

UK driving test wait times surge despite DVSA promises

Since February, waiting times for UK driving tests have been steadily increasing, with the average wait reaching 17.8 weeks by May. This is despite promises from the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) chief executive, Loveday Ryder, that they are “taking all measures it can to reduce waiting times”.

In January, Ryder mentioned in a blog post that they were asking more managers and admin staff with the necessary qualifications to conduct driving tests full-time starting in October 2023.

"This will help us to reduce driving test waiting times," she said. However, new data from the AA Driving School, obtained through a freedom of information request, tells a different story. It shows a 20% increase in average waiting times and a 33% rise in the number of test centres where candidates wait over five months. This year, 51% of test centres have seen increased wait times, and 93% have longer waits than the pre-pandemic average.

The AA Driving School argues that current efforts to reduce waiting times are failing. They are urging all political parties to prioritise reducing the driving test backlog and improving wait times before the general election in July.

“Enough is enough. The additional test slots the DVSA added to the system between October and March have made no difference to the average waiting time learners up and down the country are facing,” says Camilla Benitz, Managing Director of AA Driving School.

"In fact, learners faced longer average waiting times in May than they did in February. More has to be done to address this issue. Being able to drive is not a luxury – for many people it is an absolute necessity to get them to work, education and employment."

The AA is calling for a renewed commitment from the DVSA to create more test slots and also to focus on recruiting and retaining more examiners.

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