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Driving tests down 98% amid coronavirus lockdown

Neil Lancefield, PA Transport Correspondent
·2 mins read

Just 6,200 driving tests were conducted between April and June due to the coronavirus pandemic, new figures show.

This is a 98% reduction on the same quarter in 2019 when 393,400 tests were taken across Britain.

The Department for Transport data shows that the pass rate improved from 46% to 55% over the same period.

Driving tests across the UK were suspended for all candidates except key workers after the coronavirus lockdown in March.

They resumed on July 22 in England and on later dates in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

UK Government guidance states that candidates must wear a face covering unless they have “a good reason not to”.

Learners have faced difficulties booking tests amid the huge backlog.

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) has urged candidates to ensure they are “ready to pass” before taking a test slot.

A spokeswoman for the agency said: “DVSA’s priority is to stop the spread of coronavirus and keep our staff and customers safe.

“Coronavirus has severely impacted our business and usual operations, including by stopping driving tests from March to July.

“During this time DVSA only provided emergency driving and motorcycle tests for those whose work was critical to the coronavirus response.”

Steve Gooding, director of motoring research charity the RAC Foundation, said: “Being able to drive is more important now than ever, particularly for those new to the job market who are likely to have to travel far afield to find employment opportunities.

“Even before Covid-19, the proportion of young people holding a driving licence had started to increase again after years of decline. The current economic situation is likely to push the number of those who want to drive higher still.

“If the last quarter was noteworthy for how few tests were carried out, the coming quarters could be remarkable for how many are taken.

“Learner drivers will be hoping that the online booking system is able to take the strain as record numbers try to reserve a test slot. At least any backlog will allow learners to hone their skills so they have the best chance of passing when the time comes.”