The Frustration of Test Backlogs: 4 Ways the DVSA are Tackling This

After spending all that time learning to drive with your instructor, you’re finally ready. But wait! There are massive test backlogs, and when you do get there, you have the low pass rates you need to manoeuvre through when it does come to your test.

This can all be quite complicated, and that’s why we’re going to go through everything you need to know when it comes to test backlogs and low pass rates.

Test Backlogs: All You Need to Know

Taking a test is stressful enough, never mind the constant anxiety of waiting for ages to take the test and find out if you’ve passed.

It is no secret that test backlogs are at an all-time high. In fact, a recent study found that there is an average of a year’s backlog in driving tests. But why is this? Let’s find out.

It’s a New Phenomenon

Before the pandemic, it would only take around six weeks to get a test.

But now it’s much more. The DVSA says that the number of people on the waitlist increased by 34,263 in May 2022 when compared with the numbers from the previous year.

In 2019, the average pass rate was 45%, whereas now, it has jumped up to an average of 49%.

The DVSA has said that the main reason for this is due to unprepared students accepting tests when they’re not ready, failing, and then returning to the waitlist.

Although there might be some truth to this, the main cause of the backlogs has been the pandemic. As tests were banned during the start of the lockdown, thousands more students than usual were booking and waiting for their driving tests.

On top of this, during the pandemic, only 6 tests were being carried out daily in the interests of safety; however, this has increased back up to 7 in order to accommodate the waitlist.

The DVSA has changed a lot to try and ease things. For example, since April 2021, DVSA has created an extra 695,000 car practical driving test appointments to help ease the backlog.

However, while this has helped, it hasn’t been enough.

What Is Being Done About It?

The DVSA has highlighted a few different ways to help tackle these backlogs. Let’s get into it below.

1. Encourage learner drivers to be better prepared

One of these new rules is to stop drivers from booking tests before they are ready for them. Instead of having to wait 10 days before booking another one, those who fail will have to wait 28 days before they can rebook.

Some driving instructors believe it will be a good move for increasing safety on the road, especially as data has shown that examiners have physically intervened in more than 12% of tests due to safety concerns.

However, it is yet to be seen whether this will help, and many believe it will do the opposite.

Many driving instructors believe that the main reason for a backlog of tests (and more people failing tests) is nerves. With many learners having to wait months and months for their tests, there is the added pressure of needing to get it right or having to wait a long time to try and pass again.

Others believe that there should be more driving test centres, more examiners, and more tests on weekends and holidays to reduce this backlog which is showing no sign of slowing down.

2. Reducing car driving test spaces that aren’t used

Another major issue is learners cancelling their tests too late and the slot not being replaced. As it currently stands, you need to cancel your appointment 3 days before the test.

However, new rules are being brought forward that propose the cancellation time to be increased from 3 to 10 days before so that other drivers can fill up these vacant spots when they become available. 

3.Collect better data about driving instructors

At present, the law states that driving instructors need to display their registration certificates on the windscreen when charging for lessons. However, this doesn’t apply when they are bringing their students to driving tests.

Because of this, the DVSA are proposing that instructors should be legally required to show their registration certificate when the car is used for a driving test, and if they refused, they would face the consequence of having their approval to teach taken away.

Why? Well, the DVSA believe that this will help with two things:

  1. Help them find which driving instructors have subpar pass rates and organise to see them for standard checks to improve their quality of training.
  2. It will encourage more instructors to only bring people to the tests they think will pass.

Both of the above points will help to ensure that learners are only charged for high-quality driving lessons and will massively reduce the number of low pass rates caused by substandard driving instructors.

4.Check for Eyesight

Currently, the law states that you can only check eyesight for driving tests in good daylight, meaning that it is impossible to have driving tests after sunset.

By changing this law to either do eyesight checks at different levels of light or by using a tablet, there will be more spaces for driving tests and lower backlogs. This will also help as often tests will have to be cancelled if there’s poor light due to weather conditions. Even the time of the year can affect whether there’s enough light to do a test or not.

On top of helping to reduce the backlogs, this will also enable the tests to be more thorough when it comes to eyesight, as drivers will need to meet eyesight requirements in different levels of light and not just in the optimum conditions of good daylight.

Have the Best Chance of Success With the Metropolitan Driving School

All in all, these test backlogs are a massive issue. Hopefully, these new rules will reduce the extremely long backlog and massively decrease the current low pass rates.

At the Met Driving School, we offer all our students high-quality teaching to best prepare you for your test and help you pass the first time. Interested? Contact us today to find out more info.

Matthew, Metropolitan Driving School

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