Instructors and pupils revving up to get started as driving lessons and tests set to resume after Covid-19 shut down

Instructors and pupils in Peterborough are itching to get back behind the wheels as the government allows driving lessons and theory tests to restart this Saturday in England, with car driving tests restarting from Wednesday July 22..

Friday, 3rd July 2020, 7:52 am
Independent instructors Paul and Jody Brown of Jody's Driving School in Peterborough. EMN-200207-165916001

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) has announced that learners can resume driving lessons and motorcycle training in England but there will be a number of precautionary measures that will mean it will be a somewhat different experience for learners and trainers.

The rule also applies to private practice with someone you live with or in your support bubble.

Theory tests will restart with social distancing measures in place while the slight delay in driving tests restarting will give learners time to have refresher lessons and practice first.

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Up to this point, other than emergency training and tests for critical workers, driving instruction and driving tests have not been able to restart because the risk of transmission of the virus within vehicles.

Guidance has been provided for instructors ahead of the restart. Family run, Jody’s Driving School, of Peterborough have been teaching people to drive for six years. Jody and husband Michael are both trained instructors and they said it is fantastic news that they can get started teaching again.

“Getting our diary’s out and booking customers in again is great,” said Jody.

“Our customers were so eager and relieved to get booked back in again.”

Jody said the last three months have been tough: “Not being able to instruct lessons during lockdown has been hard. To go from seeing five to eight of our customers a day to none was frustrating and we missed the social interaction of the lessons. Although all instructors have been able to teach key workers with an emergency key worker driving test booked.”

She added: “We’re really looking forward to getting back to instructing as it’s what we love. Although it will be strange to begin with, with all the PPE, but us and our customers understand it’s what we must do to move forward.”

Caution is the watch word at the moment as Jody explained: “We will be starting back slowly with bigger gaps between lessons. We will be taking all precautions with good air flow through the car and wearing masks and gloves as will our customers to keep them and us protected the best we can, unless they have a medical reason not too.

“We will also be sanitising the car before and after each lesson and hand sanitising gel is available for customers in the car too.

“We are also asking all pupils to have washed their hands before getting into the vehicle and if they or anyone they’ve been in contact with have any symptoms of Covid -19, then they are to cancel their lesson with us and we will obviously do the same.”

She said driving tests will also see examiners masked and gloved with full PPE.

It has taken time for the DVSA to get driving test centres up and running again after the long period of closure. They need to be thoroughly checked, such as making sure hot and cold water systems are free from legionella bacteria (which causes Legionnaires’ disease).

They have also had to source PPE and check which examiners are available as some may be classed as vulnerable. Those learners who had a test postponed during lockdown will be asked to re-book.

With instantly no income coming in from lessons, there has also been financial support for self-employed instructors, through the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme. The scheme allows you to claim a taxable grant worth 80 per cent of your average monthly trading profits, covering three months’ worth of profits, and capped at £7,500 in total.

You must make your first claim on or before July 13 and a second and final taxable grant claim in August worth 70 per cent of your average monthly trading profits covering a further three months’ worth of profits, and capped at £6,570 in total.

The government is also providing other help for the self-employed. Visit www.gov.uk/coronavirus/business-support.

Grant Shapps, Transport Secretary, said: “Driving lessons and tests are vital in helping people get to work and visit loved ones, and provide the skills for a lifetime of safe driving.

“As the country recovers from Covid-19 we can now open up our services to help get the country moving again.”

Gareth Llewellyn, DVSA Chief Executive, said: “It has been vital that lessons and tests only resume when safe to do so and in line with the government’s advice.

“We know this has been a tough time for the whole country including learners and driving instructors but I am pleased to announce the restart of lessons and tests in England.

“Tests for critical workers have continued during the lockdown and I would like to thank all those instructors and examiners who have continued to work to help deliver tests for those who have done so much to help us during this terrible pandemic.”