More than half a million learner drivers are waiting for their exams amid a huge backlog, figures show.
The AA driving school, which obtained data from the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), said the queue for tests is “too long” and called for a “clear plan” to solve the problem.
Driving tests have been banned during coronavirus shutdowns, causing a backlog of applicants.
Many people still find it difficult to book a test without waiting several months.
DVSA figures for October 22 show that 538,832 tests have been booked for the next 24 weeks.
AA Driving School Acting Director General Robert Cowell said: “Learners were disappointed when the government decided not to extend theory test certificates that expired in lockdowns, as they have done with MOTs, and it’s disheartening that the backlog of practice tests has reached half a million tests this year.
“Driving instructors have adapted to make lessons safer when restrictions are lifted, but the DVSA has still not caught up enough to meet demand and questions need to be asked about the support they can. get to make sure we don’t end up in the same position if restrictions come back. “
The DVSA announced a series of measures to increase testing windows, including conducting tests after hours, including weekends and holidays, launching a campaign to recruit more examiners and the return of recently retired examiners.
He also urged learners to only take their test when they are sure they can pass it.
The latest data shows that the pass rate fell from 46.4% between 2015 and 2020 to 49.6% between July and September of this year.
DVSA Managing Director Loveday Ryder said, “We are doing everything we can to provide as much testing as possible so that we can get our services back to normal.
“I know learners will want to take their test now, but it is important that they are well prepared for their test and do not take it until they are ready.
“With more than half of applicants failing and currently extremely high demand for tests, learners should only take their test when they are confident they can pass.
“It will help them avoid a long wait for a retest and will help us by not adding to the waiting list for the test drive.”