Learner drivers spend £12m on fast tracking practical tests after pandemic backlog continues to cause delays
- Thousands of learner drivers are splashing out to fast track practical tests
- There has been a huge backlog of tests caused by the pandemic
- Some driving instructors are charging more
Learner drivers have spent an estimated £12million to fast track practical tests after a huge backlog caused by the pandemic, new research has revealed.
Thousands of future drivers are having to wait months for a date, with many willing to pay additional premiums of up to £60 to bring forward their test, according to Direct Line Motor Insurance.
It found there could be a backlog of 2.8million learner drivers looking to take their test this year – an increase of around 75 per cent compared to a normal year – with vast numbers of young people unable to take a test during lockdown.
This would mean an average of nearly 8,000 tests taking place every day across the UK’s 380-plus test centres.
Learner drivers have had to wait months for a practical tests, thanks to the pandemic backlog
The backlog, caused by a pause to lessons and tests during the pandemic, has resulted in a long waiting list for driving tests, exacerbated by driving instructors booking up slots and charging a premium for students to reserve them.
Some driving instructors have been charging up to £122 per test, a 97 per cent premium for learners to book their tests through them.
This is an additional charge of around £60 on top of the already £62 test.
With test availability limited, more than 200,000 learners – equivalent to 34 per cent of those who are learning or have passed in the past year – have opted to fast-track their practical tests and pay the premium.
Furthermore, with the cost of a driving test expected to rise next year by more than 20 per cent from £62 to £75, the first time since 2009, millions of young drivers have been willing to fork out more now in order to get their licence this year.
Conditions have been difficult for young learner drivers since the start of the pandemic with 45 per cent saying they have experienced issues when learning to drive due to the stop-start nature brought about by Covid.
Another 43 per cent said issues have been caused by a lack of available driving test slots with 26 per cent adding there has been an increase in the cost of learning to drive.
|Issues experienced||Percentage of learner drivers affected||Estimated number of learner drivers affected|
|Stop-start learning due to Covid-19||45 per cent||260,000|
|Lack of available driving test slots||43 per cent||250,000|
|The increasing costs of lessons and tests||26 per cent||150,000|
|Lack of available driving instructors||21 per cent||125,000|
|Cost of queue jumping fees to book a test||10 per cent||60,000|
|Source: Direct Line Motor Insurance|
On average, a current learner has spent 47 hours learning how to drive, split between 26 hours of lessons and 21 hours of free practice.
In total this has cost them £365 on average, but 32 per cent have spent more than £500 on learning to drive so far.
Lorraine Price, head of motor insurance at Direct Line, said: ‘As we expected to see, 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.
‘It is reassuring however, to see that the demand for learning to drive still stands despite the frustration of delayed tests and it’s encouraging to know learners will eventually take to the roads safely and confidently after an extended period of learning.’
This is Money previously reported that RED driving school was looking to recruit 400 new instructors as a result of the backlog.
It said it has a fast-track training scheme for those wanting to enter the industry in a bid to help thousands of learners pass their tests.
In a bid to speed up the process, the DVSA is calling on retired examiners and those qualified to conduct tests, but who do not do so as part of their day job, to return to tackle the number of learners waiting.
Direct Line surveyed 544 UK adults aged 18 to 24 who are either currently learning to drive or who passed their test in the past year in October 2021.
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