Learner drivers waiting six months to take tests due to examiner strikes

More learner drivers are finding their lives are on hold due to a backlog of driving tests fueled by strikes, the pandemic and a shortage of instructors, ITV News' Chris Choi reports

Some learner drivers are waiting up to six months to take their tests, even if they've booked a slot, figures obtained by ITV News show.

The average waiting time has risen to almost four months in recent weeks, as a shortage of instructors, the impact of the pandemic and examiners strikes are adding to the backlog.

Figures from the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency given to ITV show 545,306 people are currently waiting, having been given a test date.

These delays are taking their toll on learners, who feel that their lives are being put on hold because of them.

When will driving examiner strikes be held in April?

Monday April 17 - Tuesday April 18: North-east England and Scotland Thursday April 20 and Friday April 21: North-west England and Yorkshire and the Humber Monday April 24 and Tuesday April 25: East of England, East Midlands, West Midlands and parts of London Thursday 27 and Friday April 28: London, south-east England, south-west England and Wales

You can find out more about which test centres are being affected and what to do if your test cannot go ahead here.

ITV News' Chris Choi spoke to one learner who will have waited 10 months by the time of her test.

Guher Demir told how she needed a full UK driving licence to go on placement for a paramedic science course, but she was left waiting for so long she had to take a different course.

As learners want to stay in practice, many are spending more money than intended on lessons in order to keep their skills fresh while they wait.

Driving test examiners in England, Scotland and Wales staged a series of strikes throughout March in an ongoing dispute over pay and conditions.

A backlog within the system is also contributing to a shortage of instructors. Credit: PA

Another wave of industrial action is set for April 17 to 28 - with the government setting out when test centres will be affected.

The growing delays are now also holding trainee instructors back too, meaning some learners are struggling to find one.

The DVSA told ITV News it has added extra capacity by using overtime and redeploying staff.

But still thousands are waiting longer than needed and are spending far too much money in the process.

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know…