Massive backlog as pandemic forced cancellation of thousands of driving tests in Peterborough

Learner drivers who have a test booked now that driving tests have re-started are being urged to make it count and pass this time or they could be in for a long wait for a re-test.

Sunday, 25th April 2021, 9:00 am
The AA says the disruption may have impacted learner drivers' confidence

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency has been issuing advice on preparing ahead of your test in the next few weeks as figures reveal that thousands of driving tests were cancelled in Peterborough last year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

With tests starting up again on Thursday, April 22, the AA said the disruption may have impacted learner drivers’ confidence and compounded a difficult time for many young people.

Figures from the DVSA show 2,906 driving tests were cancelled at Peterborough Test Centre because of the pandemic between March and December.

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A further 72 tests were cancelled for other reasons – including 41 for medical absences and 15 because the examiner took annual or special leave.

Acts of nature – adverse weather conditions and bad light – also forced the cancellation of 16 tests.

Across Great Britain, 458,000 tests could not take place because of the pandemic in 2020, though the DVSA said there are currently 420,000 booked for when testing centres reopen.

Lessons recommenced in England and Wales on April 12, with tests following this last week – and the AA is expecting huge demand.

Robert Cowell, interim managing director of AA Driving School, said: “Many pupils will have either had a big break in lessons, which may impact their confidence, or have had to postpone driving lessons for many, many months.

“For young people, who have already suffered disruption to their education, not being able to learn to drive will compound an already stilted start to adult life.”

He added that extending the validity period of theory test certificates – as has been the case for MOTs and driving licences – or offering a free re-sit, could help reduce demand, or at least lessen the financial impact.

Nicholas Lyes, head of roads policy at the RAC Foundation, said: “Learner drivers will breathe a sigh of relief that driving lessons and tests are restarting, however the backlog for those waiting for both practical and theory tests is likely to be huge.”

He also urged the DVSA to consider a short extension for those whose theory test has either expired, or is about to, but the Government has already said it will not do so.

A DVSA spokesman added: “Ensuring new drivers have current, relevant knowledge and skills to identify developing hazards is a vital part of the training for young and new drivers, who are disproportionality represented in casualty statistics.”

While thousands of tests were cancelled in Peterborough, 2,873 did take place between April and the end of December.

Of these, 1,425 were successful, giving drivers at Peterborough Test Centre a pass rate of 50 per cent – equal to the average across Britain.

Meanwhile, DVLA figures from March show just 2.97 million people in Britain aged 16-25 hold a full licence – the smallest number since records began in November 2012.