New drivers are waiting up to 18 weeks for a practical test, according to new research from heycar and Honest John Vans.
Apprentices and younger tradespeople are facing an uphill battle to get hold of a driving licence after research revealed that some new drivers will have to wait over four months for a practical driving test.
According to official DVSA (Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency) figures obtained by heycar and Honest John Vans through a Freedom Of Information request, some driving test centres are quoting an 18-week wait for a driving test. The news will be met with dismay by young tradespeople and apprentices who are hoping to get the keys to their first van in 2021.
The problems have been caused by the Covid-19 Pandemic and lockdowns, with the DVSA cancelling a whopping 241,127 practical tests between April 2020 and March 2021. The pandemic has seen the national average waiting time increase from 9 to 14 weeks. But the national figures only tell half the story, with some areas faring worse than others.
The areas worst affected include Halifax (Maltings), Cheadle, Isle of Scilly, Crieff in Scotland and Llandrindod Wells in Wales. Bradford (Manningham), Northwich, Isle of Mull and Bristol (Jubilee House) are among the places where waits stretch to 17 weeks. Learners in Bridgend and Llantrisant face delays of 16 weeks while it is 15 weeks for those in Merthyr Tydfil and Newtown.
However, while the backlog of driving tests has caused waiting times to spiral, the research from heycar and Honest John Vans has also revealed the areas with the shortest waiting times. Carlisle has a four-week wait while Galashiels in the Scottish borders is quoting five weeks.
Kendal (Oxenholme Road), Boston, Inverness (Seafield Road) and Pembroke Dock are among the towns that boast a six-week delay. While learners need only wait seven weeks in Whitby, King’s Lynn, Dundee, Elgin, Cardigan and Carmarthen.
Dan Powell, Senior Editor at heycar and Honest John Vans says: “Our latest research provides the most accurate snapshot of the impact of the coronavirus on driving tests so far. While those lucky enough to live in or near Carlisle enjoy the shortest wait in the UK of just four weeks, it’s a very different story elsewhere, including Halifax where residents face the longest waits of 18 weeks.
The DVSA says it is putting measures in place to reduce the wait for practical driving tests. These include offering overtime and annual leave buyback to examiners, asking all those qualified to conduct tests, but who do not do so as part of their current day job, to return to conducting tests, and conducting out of hours testing (such as on public holidays).
In addition, the DVSA says it has started a recruitment campaign to increase the number of examiners. Yet, even with all of these measures in place, it could be many months before waiting times return to pre-pandemic levels.
For further information on Honest John Vans visit www.honestjohn.co.uk/vans