More than 3,000 driving tests cancelled at Bletchley Test Centre, due to pandemic

Huge demand expected when tests start up again tomorrow, Thursday

Wednesday, 21st April 2021, 12:17 pm
The AA says the disruption may have impacted learner drivers' confidence

Thousands of driving tests were cancelled in Bletchley last year because of the coronavirus pandemic, figures reveal.

Ahead of tests starting up again tomorrow, Thursday April 22, the AA said the disruption may have impacted learner drivers' confidence and compounded a difficult time for many young people.

Figures from the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency show 3,107 driving tests were cancelled at Bletchley Test Centre because of the pandemic between March and December.

A further 211 tests were cancelled for other reasons – including 124 for medical absences and 67 because the examiner took annual or special leave.

Acts of nature – adverse weather conditions and bad light – also forced the cancellation of 20 tests.

Another 1,410 driving tests were cancelled at Aylesbury Test Centre because of the pandemic between March and December.

Across Great Britain, 458,000 tests could not take place because of the pandemic in 2020, though the DVSA said there are currently 420,000 booked for when testing centres reopen.

Lessons have recommenced in England and Wales, with tests set to follow from April 22 – and the AA is expecting huge demand.

Robert Cowell, interim managing director of AA Driving School, said: "Many pupils will have either had a big break in lessons, which may impact their confidence, or have had to postpone driving lessons for many, many months.

"For young people, who have already suffered disruption to their education, not being able to learn to drive will compound an already stilted start to adult life."

He added that extending the validity period of theory test certificates – as has been the case for MOTs and driving licences – or offering a free re-sit, could help reduce demand, or at least lessen the financial impact.

Nicholas Lyes, head of roads policy at the RAC Foundation, said: “Learner drivers will breathe a sigh of relief that driving lessons and tests are restarting, however the backlog for those waiting for both practical and theory tests is likely to be huge."

He also urged the DVSA to consider a short extension for those whose theory test has either expired, or is about to, but the government has already said it will not do so.

A DVSA spokesman added: “Ensuring new drivers have current, relevant knowledge and skills to identify developing hazards is a vital part of the training for young and new drivers, who are disproportionality represented in casualty statistics."

While thousands of tests were cancelled in Bletchley, 2,288 did take place between April and the end of December.

Of these, 950 were successful, giving drivers at Bletchley Test Centre a pass rate of 42 per cent – below the average across Britain of 50 per cent.

Meanwhile, DVLA figures from March show just 2.97 million people in Britain aged 16-25 hold a full licence – the smallest number since records began in November 2012.