Learner drivers trying to book a practical driving test have faced huge difficulties over the past week after the online booking service crashed and was taken offline twice.
Hopeful students reported waiting in an online queue for hours before being told there were no available appointments or being kicked out of the system part-way through a booking.
At its peak more than 270,000 people were queuing on the DVSA booking site to try and secure an appointment. The service was only relaunched on August 25 after being overwhelmed by demand when it initially reopened to the public on August 21.
After just 8 and a half hours on Wednesday 25, the DVSA shut down the booking service again, saying that all available appointments for the next six weeks were filled. The next batch of 19,000 appointments was released on Tuesday, September 2 and spaces were snapped up with similar speed.
The DVSA says it will release a limited number of additional slots on September 7 before opening up 375,000 slots on September 14, which will cover appointments between October and January 2021.
Even once these additional slots are available competition for appointments is likely to be high and the DVSA has advised drivers to consider more than just their nearest test centre when trying to book a slot.
Now, new data has revealed the busiest and quietest test centres around the country, offering some hope to those trying to find an available slot.
Looking at data for the whole of the UK, all 10 of the quietest test centres are in Scotland, with Ballater in Aberdeenshire seeing just 100 candidates in 2018/19. Behind it, Crieff, Thurso, Dunoon, Kelso and Girvan all conducted fewer than 140 tests last year.
The 10 quietest driving test centres
However, students in Scotland cannot yet book a new driving test, with slots due to open up on September 7 for tests starting on September 14.
In the rest of Britain, the test centres that conducted the fewest tests in 2018/19 were concentrated in Wales and the north of England. Outside of Scotland, Berwick-upon-Tweed is the quietest test centre, with just 485 tests last year. Whitby, with 495 was the second quietest, ahead of Llandrindod Wells and Lampeter in Wales (593 and 642 respectively) and Garston, in Liverpool (677).
Making up the rest of the top 10 were Bala (682), Alnwick (739), Pwlheli (791), Louth (834) and Melton (915).
The data, compiled for GoCompare’s Driving Test Report, also revealed the country’s busiest test centres, where candidates are most likely to struggle to secure a slot.
London dominated the list of busy test centres, with six of the top 10 in the capital. Goodmayes was the busiest last year, with 11,253 tests taken there. Morden (8,468), Pinner (6,702), Islesworth (6,212) and Hither Green (5,581), all in London, completed the top five.
Outside London, West Didsbury in Manchester (5,694), Farnborough (5,629), Reading (5,332) and Liverpool’s Norris Green (5,246) were hot spots for candidates.
The 10 busiest driving test centres