Learner drivers ‘rusty’ as wait for tests comes to an end

Learner drivers ‘rusty’ as wait for tests comes to an end
Learner drivers taking tests this week admit to feeling “rusty” behind the wheel but are keen to avoid even more delays if they don’t pass.  

Non-emergency tests have been banned since early January due to Covid-19 restrictions but are due to resume this week in most of the UK.  

Jade Bone, 24, from Southampton, told PA news agency she is “quite anxious” after going more than three months without driving due to the ban on lessons, which was only lifted in England on 12 April.  

She said: “My confidence has been knocked a bit. In my first couple of lessons back I was really rusty. 

“Although I haven’t forgotten how to do things, my general confidence with driving isn’t what it was before. I’m a bit more hesitant now. I’m doubting myself.” 

Tests are to go ahead again in England and Wales on Thursday (22 April), in Northern Ireland on Friday, and in Scotland on 6 May at the earliest.   

Ms Bone is well aware of the backlog of learner drivers wanting to book a test and is worried she will have to wait until August to try again if she fails her test on Thursday.  

“It’s going to be so long before I’m able to get another test if this one doesn’t go quite to plan,” she said.  

“That’s quite frustrating and a scary prospect, especially because it’s an expensive thing to do, having lessons.” 

Her instructor, Rob Fenn of RED driving school, 56, said lots of his students were “test-ready” in January but have since “gone backwards” due to the long wait as a result of the pandemic. 

He explained: “They’ve got a bit rusty. They need a few lessons to get back up to where they were prior to lockdown.” 

He pointed out many learner drivers are even having to rely on their parents for tuition as the rise in demand for teachers means there aren’t enough to go around. 

“In the last five days I’ve had nine new students, which is unheard of,” he added. 

Mr Fenn advises those still trying to secure a driving test to “sit at a computer and keep refreshing the page”. 

Olivia Watts, 17, from Chelmsford, is also due to take a test this week after enduring the painful process of getting one booked.  

She said: “I found it hard to book the test because there was a backlog. Every morning I had to look on the website because the slots would fill up really quickly.  

“I had to wait for a cancellation because there weren’t any tests available until around August or September.” 

The current demand for driving tests follows analysis from PA earlier this month that found the number of young drivers has plunged to a record low, impacted by the suspension of tests and lesson.  

There are just 2.97 million people aged 16-25 who hold a full driving licence in Britain, down from 3.32 million in March 2020.  

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said earlier this month that the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVLA) will “offer more tests and more examiners” in a bid to meet demand, including additional slots at weekends and on bank holidays.

Feeling rusty yourself? Check out our guides on learning to drive and how to teach a learner driver. Make sure you have Learner Driver Car Insurance before hitting the road, too!

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