DVSA backlogs leave millions of Britons waiting for driving tests as motorists fume 'enough is enough'

DVLA driving test booking

Backlogs are now more than four months long for learner drivers

Hemma Visavadia

By Hemma Visavadia

Published: 17/06/2024

- 13:52

Driving is not a 'luxury' but a necessity, experts have warned

Millions of Britons have been left waiting weeks to complete their driving test as backlogs have reached record heights, according to new data.

Waiting times for driving tests are more than four months long and have been steadily increasing since the start of February this year.

According to a Freedom of Information request, the average waiting time for a driving test at the start of February was 14.8 weeks but has since risen 20 per cent to 17.8 weeks in May.

The data found a 33 per cent rise in the number of test centres with waiting times of more than five months with experts warning that “enough is enough”.

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Learner driver

More than half of all UK test centres have seen waiting times increase


Camilla Benitz, managing director at the AA Driving School, explained that being able to drive is not a “luxury” and for many people is an absolute necessity to get them to work, education and employment.

At the start of May, most test centres had average waiting times higher than pre-pandemic numbers, which was roughly six weeks.

The research revealed that over half (51 per cent) of UK test centres have seen average waiting times increase this year, while only a fifth (20 per cent) have seen an improvement.

Benitz stated: “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.”

She added more must be done to address this issue. She said:Being able to drive is not a luxury – for many people it is an absolute necessity to get them to work, education and employment.

“We need to see a renewed commitment from the DVSA to make additional driving test slots available.

“But also to recruiting and retaining more examiners so additional learner test slots do not come at the expense of other vital DVSA services, such as driving instructor training exams, which we have seen falling availability of recently.”

Looking at the data by region, 71 test centres had an average waiting time of 24 weeks between February 5 and May 6.

Meanwhile, test centres which increased their average waiting time between February and May to 24 weeks included Barnet and Hornchurch in London.

It also includes Basingstoke, Dorchester, Greenham, Hornchurch, Inveraray, Ipswich, Kettering, Maidstone, Newport (Isle of Wight), Nottingham, Plymouth and Whitby.

Elsewhere, the DVSA data recorded more pass rates in automatic cars than people driving in manual vehicles.

The agency found that 17 per cent of all vehicle passes were in automatic cars last year, compared with 13.4 per cent the previous year.


Photo of drivers licence

71 test centres saw waiting times exceed 24 weeks this year


Automatic driving tests were introduced over 50 years ago on June 2, 1969, when a separate driving licence group was issued.

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