Hundreds of learners face driving test frustration in Milton Keynes
Some have been forced to re-take their theory test because it has expired
Problems booking a driving test slot are affecting would-be drivers all over MK following the Covid pandemic.
One mum wrote to the Citizen in frustration because her son has found all the local test centres are fully booked up until at least November.
He has already been waiting so long that his theory test expired and he had to re-take it.
"He is 19. He used to get a bus to work but the route was cancelled. He tried using MK Connect but between 6am and 7am they are unreliable. He ends up at least once or twice a week requesting mum's taxi service (me)," she said.
"And if I am without my car (which I was for two weeks) it is costing him £12 by taxi to get to work. He is on an apprenticeship salary."
The mum said test centre bookings are currently not open for December but as soon as they are, it's expected they will be immediately filled.
"Sorry about rant but this has a big impact on young adults of today," she said.
The Citizen spoke to he Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) to ask whether the situation was due to improve.
Their chief executive Loveday Ryder said: “We are doing all we can to provide as many tests as possible so we can get our services back to normal.
"“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 only 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.“
DVSA’s aim is to increase testing whilst maintaining a Covid-secure service for customers and examiners.
Measures introduced to increase practical driving tests include:
• Offering overtime and annual leave buy back to our driving 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
• Inviting recently retired examiners to conduct tests
• Conducting out of hours testing such as at weekends and on public holidays
• A campaign to recruit an additional 300 examiners
The driving test booking system is live and when new appointments are made available, they are added to the system. The booking system currently allows bookings into December 2021. People cancelling or rescheduling their test also free up slots for others to book, and candidates should regularly check the system for new tests.
Meanwhile, most theory tests centres are operating longer opening hours than before the start of the pandemic, including opening at weekends.
As part of the ongoing changes to the theory test service the new theory test booking service went live on 19 July with tests available to book for three months in advance.
A DVSA spokesman said: "The government has considered the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the validity period of theory test certificates. After careful consideration, the government decided not to extend theory test certificates due to the impact on road safety. We understand that this will be disappointing for some candidates. But it’s essential that candidates have the most up to date road safety knowledge and hazard perception skills to help prepare them for their test and driving safely on their own once they’ve passed."