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Driving Test Bottleneck Backlog and Waiting Times | Autozone
15 August 2023

Driving Test Bottleneck Backlog and Waiting Times | Autozone

Understanding the Current Backlog, Waiting Times & Their Effects On Learner Drivers

If you're a learner driver in the UK hoping to get your driving licence, you might have encountered a frustrating roadblock – the long and often unpredictable waiting times for practical driving tests.The driving test backlog has become a significant concern, impacting learner drivers across the country. 

In this article, we will delve into the causes of this backlog, explore its effects on aspiring drivers, provide some statistics about waiting times, and offer valuable tips on how to navigate through this challenging situation.

What Caused the Backlog?

The driving test backlog issue can be attributed to a combination of factors, with the COVID-19 pandemic being a major catalyst. The pandemic led to widespread lockdowns, social distancing measures, and temporary test centre closures, disrupting the regular flow of driving tests. 

In addition, strikes by DVSA staff since November 2022 further exacerbated the situation. These events resulted in a significant backlog of driving test appointments, leaving many learners waiting for their chance to take the practical test.


The Impact of the Backlog

The impact of the driving test backlog is far-reaching, affecting both learners and the broader community. Learner drivers are facing extended waiting times, often exceeding six months, before they can take their driving test. 

This delay can be particularly problematic for individuals who require a full UK driving licence urgently due to work commitments or other essential reasons. Moreover, the backlog could lead to a shortage of qualified drivers on the roads, impacting industries reliant on transportation and delivery services.

Waiting Times Stats

As of the latest information available, waiting times at most DVSA test centres are over six months and continue to grow due to the backlog caused by the pandemic and strikes. 


How Long Can You Expect to Wait?

Driving Test CentreApril 2022 to March 2023 (Weeks)

Note: For other Driving Test Centre wait times, you can view the full table by Driving Test Routes.

Learners attempting to book a practical driving test through the DVSA's system are encountering a scarcity of available dates. The combination of these challenges has led to frustration and uncertainty among learner drivers.

Tips on How to Get a Test

While the driving test waiting times might seem insurmountable, there are strategies you can employ to increase your chances of securing an earlier test date:

Consider Intensive Driving Courses: Intensive driving courses offer an accelerated learning experience, allowing you to cover the necessary skills in a shorter period. These courses often include a guaranteed test booking, helping you bypass the lengthy waiting times.

 Be Alert to Cancellations: Keep an eye out for cancelled or rescheduled driving test appointments. You can use online tools or contact the DVSA by phone to check for available slots. Act quickly when you find an opening to secure it.

Flexible Test Centre Selection: Opt for a driving test centre with shorter waiting times, even if it's not the closest to your location. This flexibility could help you get an earlier test date.

Staggered Test Times: Some test centres offer staggered test times, allowing for more tests to be conducted in a day. Arriving within a specified time window before your test appointment can help prevent clashes and delays.

Winter Considerations: Keep in mind that driving test availability might be affected during winter months due to weather conditions. Plan accordingly and consider scheduling tests later in the day during this period.

Consult Your Instructor: Your driving instructor can provide insights into local driving test waiting times and help you plan the timing of your practical test.

Act Promptly: When you find an available test date, don't hesitate to book it. Test slots fill up quickly, and prompt action could help you secure an earlier date.

In conclusion, the driving test backlog in the UK has created challenges for learner drivers seeking to obtain their driving licences. While waiting times are a reality, employing strategic approaches and considering alternative options can help you navigate through this bottleneck more effectively. 

By staying informed, remaining flexible, and acting promptly, you can increase your chances of getting behind the wheel sooner and achieving your goal of becoming a licensed driver.