MP Raises learner Drivers’ Tests Backlog Fears

OFFICIALS have confirmed that they plan to increase driving test capacity when examinations resume after being suspended due to Covid-19.

That was the assurance from the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) after the issue was raised by Dumfries and Galloway MP Alister Jack.

He was contacted by constituents affected by theory and practical tests being no longer available at Dumfries and Stranraer due to pandemic restrictions.

The disruption has put aspects of learner drivers’ lives on hold and, in some cases, dampened career hopes, with tests not having taken place locally since last December.

There were also concerns that some driving students who had passed the theory test might have to pay fees again and repeat the process if they were unable to complete the practical test before the two-year deadline.

In her letter to Mr Jack, DVSA chief executive Loveday Ryder, wrote: “Routine driving lessons and tests were suspended during the national lockdown periods because it is not possible to socially distance when you are in a confined space, such as a car, and in such close proximity to the instructor or examiner. 
“The safety of candidates, instructors and examiners must always remain a priority.”

Ms Ryder stated that the DVSA was following Scottish Government guidance in order to keep everyone as safe as possible.

She said: “The suspension of driving lessons and tests has impacted heavily on learner drivers and I fully understand the frustration this has caused.
“We are in the process of planning for the resumption of services and increasing test capacity when it is safe to do so.”
On calls for the theory test pass validity period to be extended during the health emergency, Ms Ryder responded: “If candidates were exempted from having to pay for a retake, then, in turn, other fee-payers would incur these costs.
“This would be unfair for the other fee-payers who will not benefit from this arrangement.”
Mr Jack said: “It is quite right that public health measures must remain paramount but, as there is a considerable backlog of candidates waiting for theory and practical driving tests, I would welcome any further moves the DVSA can make to increase testing capacity when they are able to resume.”

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