Driving test tourism: Learner driver in London reveals the backlog for tests is so huge she booked one 260 miles away in CORNWALL and is turning the trip there into a mini holiday
- The learner said that she’d been trying to get a London test date for weeks
- Every time she tried to book there were thousands in front of her in the queue
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A learner driver who lives in London has revealed how she ended up booking a driving test 260 miles away in Bodmin, Cornwall – because of the huge backlog in the capital.
The learner said that she’d been trying to get a London test date for weeks, but every time she tried to book one on the DVSA [Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency] site, on around 15 occasions, there were often ‘thousands’ of people in front of her in the queue.
Fed up with the ‘time-consuming and deeply frustrating’ process, she opted to book a test in Bodmin and visit relatives in Exeter during the trip south – driving test tourism, it would seem.
Speaking anonymously to MailOnline, she said: ‘I’ve been trying since mid-July to get a London test date – anywhere in London – logging on to the test site when it opens at 6am in the morning.
‘One of the days when I logged on at 6am there were more than 7,000 people ahead of me in the queue. Another day there were more than 5,000 people ahead of me.
Driving-test tourism: A learner driver fed up with the test backlog in London has decided to combine taking a test in Bodmin 260 miles away with visiting relatives in Exeter
The learner driver sent this screenshot to MailOnline to show how the queue for tests in London runs to thousands of people
‘Ideally, I would like to pass my test before mid-November when I am going travelling. Over the past few weeks I haven’t been able to get a test anywhere in London before the end of the year.
‘I booked a test in Bodmin for October 19 because it was the closest test centre to relatives who live in Exeter, and I can use their car – with insurance – for the exam.
‘There was no other availability in Devon or Cornwall before the end of the year when it was booked.’
The learner said that she’s looking to stay in an Airbnb in Bodmin before her test so that she can practise driving around the local roads, an added expense on top of the cost of insurance and the £62 test fee.
The learner has tried using an app called ‘Testi’ to secure a test date in London, but to no avail.
She said: ‘This basically scours the DVSA booking site and lets me see if any of the four test centres nearest to me – Tottenham, Wood Green, Wanstead and Chingford – have any availability.
‘It is pretty useless though with the current situation. I’ve been refreshing the app repeatedly and the only time it showed me a free slot for a test was for January 2024.’
She added: ‘The situation puts so much pressure on people taking tests as if they fail, they’re looking at waiting half a year for another test slot.’
The learner driver said: ‘I booked a test in Bodmin [above] for October 19 because it was the closest test centre to relatives who live in Exeter, and I can use their car -with insurance – for the exam’
Camilla Benitz, AA Driving School Managing Director, said earlier this year: ‘Driving test delays continue to have real-life implications for thousands of people who need a driving licence to get to education or work. Being able to drive is also incredibly important for maintaining social connections, supporting relatives and gives you more independence in general, especially in rural areas.’
One reason for the backlog is that hundreds of thousands of tests were cancelled during the Covid lockdown.
Before 2020 the average wait time for a test was just six weeks.
The DVSA said that waiting times are also being exacerbated by an increase in demand, sustained industrial action on civil service pay and people’s concerns about not being able to book a test, which has led to a change in customers’ behaviour.
DVSA Chief Executive Loveday Ryder said: ‘We are taking all the measures we can to reduce driving test waiting times, including recruiting almost 500 new driving examiners and creating more than one million new tests since 2021, and we strongly urge learners only to book their driving test when they are ready to Pass.’
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