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New study reveals that 5m learner drivers are fighting for 1.8m driving test slots in 2024

When it comes to scheduling driving exams, trainee drivers who are frustrated will be shocked to hear that in 2024, demand will soar above capacity by a whopping 177%.

The assertion comes after young driver insurance provider Marmalade analysed official statistics and predicted that 5,004,282 students will compete for 1,808,148 test slots this year.

According to Marmalade, the data also shows that the DVSA’s ability to administer driving tests is one-third less than what is necessary, and that the agency will once more experience a backlog of requests, resulting in a “huge rollover” of tests until 2025.

The firm has warned that “the backlog might never end if capacity in the testing system doesn’t increase”.

Analysing the data reveals that while the average monthly DVSA capacity is just 144,429 test slots, the demand for driving tests in the UK is 195,982.

The insurer claims that instructors encourage candidates to schedule tests as soon as possible, and as a result, 527,722 test slots were reserved in January for the first half of the year. It also claims that this backlog will continue to grow each month as demand outpaces the DVSA’s efforts to shorten test wait times.

Loveday Ryder, the chief executive of the DVSA, is in charge of the failing system and says “we strongly urge learner drivers only to book their driving tests when they are ready to pass”.

According to Ryder, the agency is “taking all measures it can to reduce waiting times,” and more than 40,000 additional tests are performed each month as a result of its efforts.

“My advice to learners is if you’ve done your theory, get your test booked now, but only take it if you’re confident and ready to pass based on the advice of your instructor and be prepared to reschedule it if you’re not fully ready,” said one instructor, Mark Steeples, who can’t foresee a return to pre-Covid test availability.

“Learner drivers up and down the UK are being impacted by this backlog and a fundamental disparity between the capacity for testing and this high demand. Until testing capacity can increase, we don’t believe that the backlog will ever end, it will only get worse and learners will continue to face a lottery when it comes to securing a test,” says Marmalade’s head of insure relations, Chris Lawson.

“This backlog and the pent-up demand opens up learners to a risk of exploitation as third parties take advantage of that desperation, which we’ve seen in recent months.”

Earlier this month, the DVSA addressed the issue of waiting times by stating that it is asking more manager and admin colleagues with a driving test warrant card to do driving tests full time from October 2023. The agency also stated that it has come to the end of the fourth month of its 6-month plan and gave an update on the progress made so far, which can be found here.

For more information on the findings by marmalade, please click here.

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