A damming article on the state of the driving test booking and waiting times

Source: Intelligent Instructor

Baddies, bots and the long wait

A damming article on the state of the driving test booking and waiting times

According to a new article in The Guardian, driving test waiting times in England are going up.

The comprehensive feature is a scathing critique of the entire test booking system, highlighting the shortcomings in DVSA reactions and the impact of government austerity.

It appears the only people winning or passing the tests are the scammers and bots.

Still waiting

“In 2019, the average waiting time for a driving test at my local London test centre was 2.8 weeks. As of 4 March 2024, it was 24 weeks. ”

This is the personal experience of the article’s author, Sirin Kale, and it reflects the plight of many aspiring drivers.

Her experiences are the inspiration to dig deeper into what appears to be a crisis that just keeps giving.

Despite Loveday Ryder, CEO of the DVSA,  stridently implying things are getting better, the facts paint a different picture, raising questions about the credibility of the DVSA.

“While waiting times are coming down in Wales and Scotland, in England the situation is getting worse. In March 2022, the average waiting time for a practical car driving test in England was 14.5 weeks. In March 2023, it was 15.8 weeks. As of March 2024, it was 17.8 weeks, more than double the seven-week target set out in the DVSA’s annual report,” states The Guardian investigation.


Feeling unwell

As we know, the pandemic and the closing of all test centres led to a backlog in driving tests.

According to the article, DVSA data analysis revealed a Covid backlog of more than 1 million tests for Great Britain.

Since pandemic restrictions ended in 2021, the agency has made an extra 212,000 tests available.

This was achieved by training more examiners, returning them to the frontline from their desk jobs, and increasing test centre opening times.

However, at the current rate, the DVSA will not clear the Covid backlog until 2026.

Big business

This massive demand for test slots and huge waiting times is fuelling the black market, including participating ADIs.

It’s a sobering investigation of a growing market that further undermines the test booking system and adds to frustrations.

Despite Ryder’s apparent chiding of irresponsible candidates who block the system by booking before they are test-ready, the report suggests that the real problems are a failing institutional structure and low morale.

“As of July 2023, the DVSA had recruited 474 new driving examiners since March 2021. But about 15 examiners quit each month. It’s not hard to see why. Examiners test seven students a day, work weekends for no additional pay and are often abused by members of the public. For all this, they are paid about £27,000 a year.”



The forecast

Meanwhile, the bots and test booking ‘entrepreneurs’ seem to be the real winners.

They are exploiting a faulty booking system, desperate candidates and a creaking public service platform.

Dan Cloake, a 35-year-old lighting technician from east London, paid £170 for a fast-track driving test.

He used a WhatsApp group promising “early driving bookings”.

Cloake gave over his details and a copy of his licence, and this information is used not just to book him a slot but also to reserve other slots that the groups will sell.

It is a black market casting a dark cloud over what should be a simple booking procedure for people wanting to take the driving test.

As Cloake puts it: “I’m originally from Brazil,” says Malta. “In Brazil, you have to pay to make things accessible. It’s scary to see that happening here.”

Read the full article here.

2024-07-08T21:11:20+00:008 July 2024|
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