There is currently a massive backlog of driving tests in the country. Busy towns and cities like Reading have been negatively affected and thousands of people have found it incredibly difficult to book a test since the country came out of lockdown.
I started taking driving lessons in November and started looking for driving tests at the end of February. Now I have been looking for a driving test in Reading for four months, with no indication that he might buy one any time soon.
There are currently no tests available to book at the reading test center on the DVSA website and this means that people have been relying on third party providers to book canceled tests at exorbitant prices. the BBC has even reported that a person bought a canceled test for £235.
When I first started looking for driving tests, I was instructed to book any test I could find and then cancel when I found a canceled test in Reading through a third party provider. I booked a driving test for the end of July at portsmouth for £62 and then downloaded an app called Driving Test Now.
Apps like Driving Test Now work by using automated software to book canceled tests when they become available. A practical reading test hasn’t appeared on the app for about two months.
Even when one has appeared, it has been impossible to try to reserve it, as it is instantly taken by someone else. This is because everyone will set their settings to ‘auto reserve’. You fill in the dates you want and the idea is that the system will automatically book you when it’s available, but of course everyone will set their settings to auto book so nothing is guaranteed.
With no test drives on the horizon and canceled tests that are hard to find (and expensive), it’s hard to imagine how the situation will begin to improve. The order book across the UK is so large that the Marmalade insurance company estimates it will only start to decline in January 2024.
What’s more, due to this delay, the website that powers trial cancellations4all is currently not accepting free trial registrations, meaning users will have to pay £18 just for the chance to try and find a canceled trial. Like most people, I have found the process exhausting and not only has it taken me a long time trying to book an exam, it has also cost me a lot of money as I have been booking more driving lessons than I need.
On Twitter, @RichJStanton said they’d had “huge trouble” booking their driving test, saying, “Clearly I’m not alone. People are saying it’s a pandemic, a buildup of that, but it looks like the DVSA website had a huge loophole until a couple of days ago, and the scalpers have been having fun. Infuriating.”
On Facebook, there are several groups that aim to sell canceled driving tests. On June 13, a person from Reading posted a message about one of them saying they “desperately need a driving test date in Reading, none available for the rest of the year, by the looks of it, can anyone help?” ?”
DVSA has taken steps to try to stop all the problems that have been created due to the backlog. It remains to be seen if this will do anything to help most people who seem to be stuck between a rock and a hard place.
On June 2, the DVSA reduced the number of times a driving test can be changed from 10 to a pre-pandemic limit of six. It has now also stopped accepting online registrations and registrations from companies that do not employ a driving instructor. This is to try to prevent random people from selling canceled tests to individuals.
The DVSA has been contacted for comment.
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