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Will you be able to get a driving test slot before 2024?

Written by: Emma Lunn
Car insurer Marmalade predicts that the driving test backlog won’t end for another two years as learner drivers battle for slots at test centres.

According to Marmalade, more than 8 million learners are expected to battle for test slots in 2022/23, meaning the backlog won’t ease until January 2024.

The estimation comes after Marmalade obtained data through a Freedom of Information request showing all tests booked for 2022, as well as gross demand for tests through the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) across all of 2021.

As well as this, after analysing Office for National Statistics 2021 driving test data, the team established an average capacity for practical testing across the UK. It’s predicted that across 2022 and 2023, demand for tests will soar to 8,166,564 across the UK, far higher than what the DVSA is estimated to accommodate in its monthly testing.

Marmalade predicts that in 2022 demand for driving tests will reach its peak in May, where rollover from previous months means 520,581 learners will pile up making it impossible for thousands to get a test booked. It says at this point the backlog will reach ‘boiling point’ with a rollover of 389,959 learners wanting a slot expected.

Beyond May this rollover will then compound each month for the next 19 months as test-ready learners build and capacity for testing struggles to cover demand. It estimates that capacity will only become available from January 2024 onwards, which means another two years of delays, extra costs and frustration for thousands of learners across the UK.

Crispin Moger, CEO of Marmalade, said: “Learner drivers have been consistently impacted as a result of the pandemic and the 2020/21 lockdowns. We have seen the biggest ever backlog in access to driving tests and for many this will have set them back quite considerably in their journey to getting on the road or perhaps even ended it for some.

“The DVSA has said it is offering overtime to examiners and rolling out a recruitment drive to increase capacity, while also closing down test centres across the UK as well as we’ve seen recently in the likes of Manchester and Shropshire.”

“Our 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. With this in mind we’d encourage learners to forward plan as much as they can, also considering private practice with a family member to supplement lessons to help ensure they are ready when the big day comes.”

Research by Marmalade last year found that learner drivers are spending extra money on lessons while they wait for a test slot.

About 450,000 driving tests were cancelled as a result of the Covid pandemic. This has led to massive delays for learner drivers attempting to get on the road.

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