This is why it can be hard to book a driving test in Milton Keynes

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Almost 455,000 learners are battling to book a driving test in the South East right now with just 248,000 slots available, research has shown.

And in Milton Keynes alone, there are 13,683 learners fighting for 7463 test slots.

Demand for practical driving test slots across the UK far exceeds the DVSA’s ability for testing, despite the new measures it has put in place according to date gathered by learner driver insurance brokers, Marmalade.

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They obtained the figures through Freedom of Information (FOI) requests and existing Office for National Statistics (ONS) data. And they found that monthly demand for tests in 2024 exceeds the monthly capacity for testing by almost a fifth (19.5%).

There's a shortage of driving test slots in Milton Keynes, research has shownThere's a shortage of driving test slots in Milton Keynes, research has shown
There's a shortage of driving test slots in Milton Keynes, research has shown

On average, the UK can conduct 163,998 tests per month. However, the FOI data reveals an average monthly gross demand of 195,982 learners looking for a test slot - more than what can be conducted.

UK-wide, Marmalade estimates more than 3.7 million learners will compete for test slots in 2024. This is 82% more than what can be accommodated.

The South East responsible for 12.25% of the backlog, meaning every two learners here will battle for each available driving test slot in 2024.

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Marmalade predicts the backlog will remain indefinitely with no signs of stopping, continuing to grow until capacity increases within the testing system.

Chris Lawson, Head of Insurer Relations for car insurance at Marmalade, said: “Learner drivers up and down the UK are being impacted by this backlog and a fundamental disparity between the capacity for testing and this high demand. Until testing capacity can increase, we don’t believe that the backlog will ever end, it will only get worse and learners will continue to face a lottery when it comes to securing a test.

“This backlog and the pent-up demand opens up learners to a risk of exploitation as third parties take advantage of that desperation, which we’ve seen in recent months.”

Marmalade’s recent survey of learner drivers across the UK found that 77% of learners cite the extra cost of more lessons as the biggest frustration in the delay for tests, followed by delaying independence and freedom (68%) among others.

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Mark Steeples, driving instructor from Pass Mark School of Driving said he doesn’t see a situation arising where we’re pre-COVID testing levels:

“The driving test backlog has a knock-on impact on those wanting to learn, I’m flooded with enquiries as people currently have an insatiable desire to learn how to drive and they’ll do it by hook or crook.

“My advice to learners is if you’ve done your theory, get your test booked now, but only take it if you’re confident and ready to pass based on the advice of your instructor and be prepared to reschedule it if you’re not fully ready.

“If you know you’re going to start your driving lessons soon, then get them booked in. I’d advise learners to book in with an instructor to start learning how to drive at least 9 months to 1 year before, not two weeks before as we often see, that just isn’t going to work.”