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Swan's Blog

Coronavirus Pandemic Fiasco of Driving Tests

admin December 18, 2020 22 5


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Well well well… what an interesting week! Not only have we gone through 9 months of the pandemic, but we are also now awaiting the fateful news of another lockdown after Christmas! How much more can we cope with? Why the hell has the government allowed 5 days at Christmas knowing full well the impending problem afterwards.

Wales is starting a 6-week lockdown on the 28th December 2020. Northern Ireland is also on lockdown from the 26th December with only one day allowed for Christmas. What the hell is going on? This is absurd! People know ONLY too well what is going on!

I was in Northampton yesterday, the cinema has shut down for good, the shops are boarded up and the town centre is like a ghost town. It was a pitiful sight! And you can ONLY go for a meal with people from your own households. What a fiasco! And what a nightmare!

 

I am not sure how much the country can take, let alone the driver training sector! There is definitely doom and gloom across all channels on social media. With lots and lots of driving instructors being put out of business, learner drivers not being able to get driving tests and a national wait of 6 months just to be able to sit a driving test.

Shortage of Driving Instructors

Today, I received a phone call from a concerned father of a student who couldn’t find an instructor anywhere in the Southeast for his son’s test at the end of December. There was absolutely nothing I could do to help him, apart from advising him to take his own son to test. There wasn’t much more that I could advise him.

The problem arose when the first lockdown ended. The DVSA allowed all previous candidates to rebook their driving test prior to allowing the general public to book their driving test appointments in the new year. Once the system opened up – the UK went into a frenzy and Tom, Dick and Harry and their wives all booked a driving test – even though, they didn’t have an accompanying driving instructor.

The Two Camps – Pupils with Driving Instructor & No Test Appointment

These types of pupils probably were having lessons before lockdown. Once lockdown was over – they went back to their driving instructor for weekly driving lessons. But alas, if they were fortunate enough to be ready to be able to book a driving test – there weren’t any appointments, as Tracey from Facebook had just booked the last one. The whole situation is crazy!

The Two Camps – Pupils with Driving Test & No Driving Instructor

These panic bookers are now realising their sheer panic of over saturating the system back in September, that indeed they can’t actually get a driving instructor onboard! Because their driving instructor is either not working, out-of-business, shielding or in fact just simply not taking on new candidates – especially as the demand is far outweighing the supply!

So, what do you do? If you have a test booked and no driving instructor to take you to the driving test? Hmmm, personally, you should reschedule the test and allow someone else to take the short notice test who has an instructor already. Free up the precious test slots and get the system moving again.

The other problem is that the industry is facing is that more and more students are actually booking tests outside of their home town. In an area where they have absolutely no experience, knowledge or even know where the test centre is. Again, with no driving instructor and no plan to even be able to get into a position to be able to even take the driving test.

The demand for an instructor is at an all-time high! I have NEVER known the industry to be in such high demand for driving instructors. It really is the golden era for instructors – if I dare say that!

So What About The DVSA?

Don’t even get me started on this one! From the beginning of the pandemic to now – communication between DVSA and driving instructors has been absolutely abysmal!

During the first pandemic, the driving examiner was on furlough on 100% of their pay – as were all civil service personnel, whilst driving instructors were on the other 80% if you were lucky to have been offered the grant. Cancellations of driving tests were given with less than 24 hours notice and some pupils even turned up for theory test appointments without even have been notified.

MOT’s were extended, but theory certificates weren’t! And I have it on full authority that NO expired theory test certificates will be extended EVER!

On the release of the first booking system – in September, we were notified the night before that tests would be back on the site – no wonder the website crashed within minutes of 8 am with over 1 million active users trying desperately to book a driving test. Then a further 5 days wait whilst the DVSA sorted a queue system to allow anyone to book a driving test. Of course, with the 375000 available appointments – these all went within two hours of the booking system being open.

Students who were fortunate enough to be within the first 50,000 in the queue were lucky enough to be able to get a driving test booking. But alas, these were indeed students without the driving instructor on-board! See the issue here….

What will happen next…

So, let’s fast forward to today! Christmas is NEXT week – so far all tests in England, are going ahead in all three tiers of the pandemic. However, areas in Tier 3 are being reduced to ONLY 5 tests a day. So, if you are currently a student in a tier-three location, there is a small chance that your driving test will be cancelled. Keep an eye on your email for any notifications.

After Christmas; Wales and Northern Ireland will be on lockdown – which is Tier 4. NO driving tests can go ahead in this level. England will have to wait and see whether they will also go into level 4. No news yet – but, hey the secondary schools are closed for years 7,8,9,10 and 11. It is ONLY a matter of time until the news (late notice) will be announced by the DVSA.

So, the moral of the story is – if you WANT to learn to drive next year, plan ahead, and in advance to book your driving lessons. In the meantime, study for your theory test now, and pass this before you commence your training – I can see there will be a 9-month waiting list for all driving tests, and possibly the theory test.

So to summarise everything, the whole industry is a mess – for the instructors working, great, when they are allowed to, but for students – it really is hit-and-miss! Either way, good luck with your quest to get your driving licence, until next week!

 

Becky Swan

 

 

 

 

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