Testing time as learners have to wait five months

Nusrat Ghani

Learner motorists who wish to book their practical driving test at the Upper Grosvenor Road site can expect a five-month wait for a date as record numbers of people look to take their tests following the pandemic.

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency [DVSA] that runs the Tunbridge Wells Driving Test Centre says they are taking measures such as training 300 more examiners nationwide to handle the backlog.

A spokesman said learners who wish to book can expect to have to wait until January for a test, but added: “You are looking at January at the moment, but people who are not ready for their test do sometimes cancel it, so slots become available all the time. We would advise people keep trying.”

During the Covid crisis, driving tests had to be cancelled for 12 months and were only restarted in March this year, meaning as many as 1.3 million new drivers are likely to book a test in the UK over the next 12 months, more than twice the normal number.

DVSA Chief Executive Loveday Ryder said the organisation was ‘doing all we can to provide as many tests as possible so we can get our services back to normal’.

He added: “I know learners will be keen to take their test now, but it is important that candidates are properly prepared and don’t rush to take it.

“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 backlog of tests.”

Even when learners finally do pass their tests, they face a further five-month waiting list to get their new licence.

The Driving and Vehicles Licensing Agency [DVLA] say new applicants can expect to wait 16 to 20 weeks for a licence, and blamed social distancing rules in the Swansea HQ for the delay.

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