To date, learners have paid £12 million to their driving instructors to fast-track their practical driving tests by jumping the massive queue created by the pandemic.
According to research by Direct Line Motor Insurance, some learners have paid up to £122 to snare a driving test, which represents a 97% premium compared to the £62 you usually pay for a test if booked directly via the DVSA.
Pupils are able to jump the queue – if they are prepared to pay the price – thanks to some driving instructors booking up slots and then charging up to £122 for the student to secure one from the pool available.
According to some driving schools, booking your test through your driving instructor is the best way to avoid queuing as they can secure tests for students through their business booking systems.
To ensure fairness of access, it should be pointed out that accredited driving instructors can book through the official government gateway system – ergo sidestepping the public queue – but only when the system is open to the public as well.
Prepared to pay up
It appears there are plenty of learners who are willing to pay the premium. And who can blame them?
After all, there could be a backlog of up to 2.8 million of you who want to take your test this year (that’s a 75% increase compared to pre-Covid years).
But with only 8,000 tests being undertaken a day, that means waiting times are long and will take months to reduce.
“Due to the number of people unable to take tests last year, the waitlist for learner drivers has continued to increase. It’s therefore not surprising to see that many want to skip the queue to take their test as soon as possible. The backlog of tests has led to many having to make the choice between paying up to learn to drive or some taking the difficult decision to put learning on hold for now.”
• Lorraine Price, head of motor insurance at Direct Line
A testing issue
It’s a situation that is being compounded by a range of other ongoing or emerging issues.
For instance, 45% of learners say the stop-start nature of learning to drive caused by the pandemic is problematic.
Others are concerned about the increasing cost of learning to drive (26%) as well as the lack of available driving instructors (21%). Here’s the full breakdown from Direct Line:
UPDATE 22/11/2021: Removed the test price increase details. We will confirm pricing once the increase has been officially signed off by the DVSA.
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