Learner drivers face long wait to sit test amid examiner shortage

Learner drivers are facing a long wait to sit their driving test at centres across Scotland because of a shortage of examiners.

Driving instructor Bobby Russell calls the waiting period for tests shocking
Driving instructor Bobby Russell calls the waiting period for tests shocking

The earliest dates for practical tests at other centres are up to four months away, compared to the normal six to seven weeks.

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) admitted it was failing to keep pace with the increasing demand for tests – and some newly recruited instructors were themselves waiting to be trained.

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Driving instructors complained that the delays were even worse than in the spring, when bad weather was blamed for cancelling more than 1,000 tests in three months.

Nicola Marr, who runs a driving school at Pathhead in Midlothian, said: “It was hoped that by now the DVSA would have sorted things out, but the situation is just as bad, if not worse, than before.”

The instructor’s pupils are now waiting up to 17 weeks – four months – for a test.

She said: “It makes the planning of teaching very difficult.”

One learner in Aberdeen failed his first test after a four-month wait, only to find there were no dates available to sit it again at any nearby centre.

He has booked his re-test at a centre 40 miles away, but will still have to wait until December. He said: “It’s a scandal. I will now have to pay hundreds of pounds in lessons to stay up to scratch.”

Last week, there were no dates available via the DVSA website for at least eight centres between Banff in Aberdeenshire and Duns in the Borders.

No dates were shown on the website for at least 25 centres, while the DVSA admitted waits at others, including Peterhead and Fraserburgh, were up to 18 weeks.

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Bobby Russell, who runs the Freedom School of Motoring in East Kilbride, said his pupils were having to wait at least 16 weeks to sit their tests.

He said: “The length of time is shocking. Examiners have retired or left and not been replaced. More are now being recruited but they are still many short. It’s shocking.”

Neil Greig, of the IAM RoadSmart motoring group, said: “The renewed interest in getting a driving licence seems to have taken the UK government by surprise and it is being very slow to react to the growing backlogs.”

Philip Gomm, of the RAC Foundation, said: “These figures illustrate why urgent action is needed. It is encouraging that scores of new examiners are being recruited, but slightly ironic that many are themselves waiting to attend the official training course.”

DVSA director of operations Peter Hearn said: “The increase in demand for driving tests is continuing, and we acknowledge that waiting times are currently higher than we would like in some of our locations.

“We are working to address this as quickly as possible and will continue with further examiner recruitment campaigns throughout 2016.”

However, he said some of the latest 127 recruits were waiting to attend the new entrant training course.