A lot of instructors are complaining about the waiting time for driving tests. Several of my own, who had tests cancelled back in March 2020, subsequently had to retake their theory tests. Rearranged tests are coming in for June/July. But ones I had to rebook came in at July/August. Worse still – and as of the start of May – those booking them cold are looking at September/October.
But there is another likely upcoming issue that ADIs haven’t cottoned on to yet.
At the moment, all those booking their tests were pretty much test-ready last March (or certainly, at the end of September/October 2020). But what about the thousands of learners who haven’t been able to start their lessons until recently? Over the next few months, they will all become test-ready too. And there is a whole year of mainly 17-year olds involved in that.
I might end up being wrong, but logically we will end up with all those new learners wanting to be booking tests at roughly the same time. My guess (prediction) is that that is going to send the waiting time through the roof. And don’t forget that this is on top of all those who have failed their rearranged tests since. Heck, the pass rate will still be about 50:50 at best, so they’re going to have to book further re-tests.
I had one of those the other day. His rearranged test had been set for June, but he got a cancellation for this week and went in his own car. He failed, and is now looking at September – though he’s after another cancellation. The annoying thing is that a few weeks ago I had said that the cancellation checker he had signed up to was fine, but they tend to be short-notice and he might not want to get one for like ‘next week’, because we needed to polish a few things that had cropped up through driving extensively with his parents. But he ended up doing precisely that and getting a short-notice cancellation. And this is what happens. He won’t be the only one.
DVSA has put on extra tests and examiners, and that will obviously help a little. But they would need hundreds of tests and examiners to manage what is going to happen in a few months time.
Ironically, instructors desperate to fill their diaries to overflowing are making it potentially worse – for themselves, as well as everyone else. They are rushing pupils through for their own financial benefit. But many are moaning about pupils and parents asking if they can book the test after the first lesson, and refusing to do it. What happens when those pupils reach test standard and then have a five month wait ahead of them for the test you eventually allowed them to book?
I am trying to plan ahead. I’ve had four new pupils in the last three days. Those who have already passed the theory I have advised to book their tests (on the understanding we will move it if they’re not ready), since they are already looking at September/October, and realistically six months is a good period of time in which to get to test standard for the average learner with no experience. Those who haven’t taken the theory I have advised to get on it urgently so we can get the practical booked for the same reasons. I point out that if booking now is September/October, then if they add one month from now for the passing the theory, November/December is a likely date for the practical – with the worry that by then thousands of new learners from last year will also be test-ready.