07 September 2020 08:35
My brother-in-law has been trying to pass his driving test since before March this year. When Covid hit all tests were cancelled, but the challenge now is rebooking one. Every two weeks the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency releases new slots for tests. As he is working, I offered to help. I signed in last week just before 8am and more than 26,000 people were in front in the queue.
After three hours, I was finally able to try booking a slot, but the DVSA has changed its booking platform. Previously, the system allowed you to see which dates were available and select one. Now you need to select a date, input your postcode and see if it is available. Every time I put in a new date it says "no dates available" so I have to start again. I managed to search each day for September, October and November.
For December I then got the message "You have reached your maximum search for the hour. Please try again later." What makes it worse is that my brother-in-law's driving theory test validity runs out at the end of the year. The DVSA has refused to extend this so, if he is unable to get his test done by December, he will have to pay to do his theory test again. CB, Bishop Auckland We feel your pain – and that of other frustrated learner drivers caught up in this unprecedented backlog. The DVSA told us that it has again closed its booking system, and apologised for any inconvenience, although this week it announced a further, larger wave of test slots up to January. It says: "We are putting in place measures to increase the number of tests and will be making more than 375,000 available from 14 September. Then almost everyone should be able to book." The booking system will reopen on that Monday at 8am. Unfortunately, all we can advise is that you keep trying. Sarah Rees, the managing director of AA Driving School, says: "The past few weeks have been a merry-go-round of failed attempts to book a test and hours waiting in an online queue that goes nowhere. There is an additional cohort of learners whose theory test certificates either expired during lockdown, or in the time since, who will have to pay for a retake the test before they attempt to book a practical test. We think it would be sensible of the government to extend theory test certificates immediately to reduce this burden." We welcome letters but cannot answer individually. Email us at [email protected] Please include a daytime phone number. Submission and publication of all letters is subject to our terms and conditions: -terms Sign up to our free newsletter for the top North Wales stories sent straight to your e-mail Sign up now! Thank you for subscribing See our privacy notice Invalid Email Driving instructors have raised concerns over the delay in driving tests due to the coronavirus crisis. On 27th of July, the Welsh Government revealed that driving lessons could resume in Wales after nearly four months of restrictions. But many learner drivers from Gwynedd that were expecting to take their driving tests in the months that were dominated by lockdown, have found that not only is there a delay but their pending tests have disappeared. This has caused great concerns for both learner drivers and their instructors with many stating that action needs to be taken to address the situation that was already an issue before lockdown. Anita Woodcock from Ysgol Yrru Anita Richie & Lindsey Driving School based in Conwy, revealed that the delay in driving tests had been particularly frustrating for the driving school and its clients. The family-run business coveres areas such as Bangor, Caernarfon, Llanfairfechan and Menai Bridge, but over recent weeks, the driving instructor of 15 years said that they had to send their clients to take their tests in Rhyl and even as far as Wrexham. (Image: Ysgol Yrru Anita Richie & Lindsey Driving School) The driving instructor has now urged the Driver and Vehicle Standard Agency (DVSA) to take action on the hold up. "There's a long waiting list for driving tests as it is," she told North Wales Live. "Before lockdown, learners would have to wait for up to 12 to 15 weeks for a driving test. Now, it's obviously more than that and at some stages, there aren't any driving tests available. "The other day, for example, I was queuing to book a test for a client. At the beginning of the morning, I was informed that I was the 88,820th person in the queue. I waited all day but there were no changes. "Some days there are no tests available in places like Bangor and they'll offer alternatives such as Pwllheli or Bala, even when there are no tests there either. We've been offered driving tests in places as far as Rhyl which is far and takes a large chunk of our days. "When we are at the test centre as well, driving instructors are obviously not allowed to go in. While a client was taking their test, I was standing outside the test centre during Storm Francis and was left absolutely drenched. "It's frustrating, we feel we can't win whatever we do and it has put us in a difficult situation. "Not only do we have clients that could pass their tests at the beginning of lockdown, whose tests have completely disappeared, but we're also getting a wave of 17-year-olds wanting to start their driving lessons. "It has left everyone in an uncertain situation. I feel like the only possible solution to this is if they open new test centres in the area to ease the backlog or it will take us a long time to get on track again." Plaid Cymru's MP for Arfon, Hywel Williams, has also had his say on the situation, and said that the delay was a matter of concern in other parts of Gwynedd. A spokesperson for politician said: "Having received several enquiries from his constituents, Mr Williams has written to the Chief Executive of the DVSA seeking clarity as to what is happening in relation to arranging a driving test. "We understand the issue is not confined to the Arfon area, and has also been raised by people in Dwyfor Meirionnydd." In response, however, DVSA revealed that they were putting in place measures to increase the number of tests avaialble. A spokesperson said: "Following consultation with the Welsh Government, driver testing fully restarted in Wales on 17 August 2020. "There are currently no more tests available to book and we have now closed the booking system. It will reopen it on Monday 7 September at 8am when more tests in Wales in will be available to book. "We are putting in place measures to increase the number of tests available and will be making more than 375,000 tests available across Great Britain to book from 14 September. Then almost everyone should be able to book a test." "We are sorry for the inconvenience this has caused and we thank candidates for their patience as it may take time to book and take a test."