Towards the end of last year, I spoke at a number of different approved driving instructor (ADI) events to update you on the work we are doing to reduce the driving test waiting times. This includes asking more manager and admin colleagues with a driving test warrant card to do driving tests full time from October 2023. This will help us to reduce driving test waiting times.
We’re now come to end of the fourth month of our 6-month plan and I wanted to give you an update on the progress we have made so far.
Looking at the data in detail
Since October 2023, we have provided 100,436 extra car driving tests towards our target of 150,000 extra tests by the end of March 2024.
This was helped by the busiest December on record for driving tests, with 152,474 being carried out – a 24.2% increase compared to December 2022.
This chart shows how October, November and December 2022 and 2023 compared.
To help us manage our teams at DVSA, we split Great Britain into 4 zones – A, B, C and D. Each of those zones is then made up of smaller areas. This map shows the zones and areas.
All of the work we’ve been doing has helped bring the average waiting time for a driving test down from 20.6 weeks at their peak in August 2023, to 15.1 weeks at the end of January 2024. This chart shows the waiting time over the last few months by the different zones.
So I hope that many of you are starting to see this reduction in waiting times at the driving test centres you use regularly. The number of test centres with waits of 24 weeks has also fallen from 148 in October 2023 to 67 in January 2024.
But as the chart clearly shows, driving test waiting times are still longer in highly populated areas and in the south.
Volunteers working away from home to help lower waiting times
To bring times lower we continue to ask our examiners from areas with lower waiting times to travel and test in test centres with longer waiting times, such as London, and other highly populated areas of the country.
They include Emily, Suzzanne and Alan.
Emily, who is a driving examiner who usually tests from Hartlepool driving test centre and is one of the examiners who has volunteered to test at other sites, said:
When the opportunity arose, I was more than happy to help contribute to DVSA’s aims in reducing driving test times.
Although it involves being away from home, it gives a variety of testing in different locations and also allows me to meet fellow colleagues from around the agency. I am happy that I can improve the service we offer to our customers and help to reduce our current waiting times.
Suzzanne, who is a driving examiner who usually tests from Pembroke Dock, said:
I started detached duty in Southall yesterday, all the way from Pembroke Dock in West Wales. I had happily volunteered to assist in another test centre and only 2 days in, I’m really enjoying the experience. From meeting new colleagues, who have been so welcoming, learning other test routes and also knowing that I am making a difference towards the test waiting times and people’s lives.
I have volunteered to be at Southall for the whole month, with a trip home after 2 weeks. That wouldn’t be for everyone, but I enjoy new challenges and working away at different test centres provides me with that, making memories along the way.
Alan, who is a driving examiner who usually tests from Bridgend driving test centre, said:
I’m really looking forward to this exciting opportunity to work with my colleagues from a different zone and to support in reducing waiting times in their area.
As well as volunteers like Emily, Suzzanne and Alan working away from home, we also continue to focus our ongoing driving examiner recruitment in the areas where waiting times are highest.
More tests are still available to book
As John Selbey explained in his blog post about what driving test waiting times actually mean, it’s not just the driving test waiting time that we monitor.
We measure and track the percentage of all the appointments in the booking service within the next 24 weeks that are still available to book. As John explained in his blog post, at 24 April 2023, 5.9% of tests within the next 24 weeks were still available to book.
This chart shows how that percentage has grown since the start of September 2023 to the end of January 2024. Nationally, 21.0% of appointments were still available to book within the next 24 weeks as at 29 January 2024. In zone A, it was even higher at 34.1%.
This means that learner drivers are starting to see a wider choice of test appointments when they book their test.
How our recovery work is affecting our other services
Although this outstanding effort means we’re on target to meet our extra 150,000 tests target, it’s not all completely positive news.
We know that some of the services we provide have been affected, such as ADI part 2 (driving ability) and part 3 (instructional ability) tests. It has taken longer than usual to get these tests as our enforcement examiners have been doing more car tests.
We’re working to make more ADI part 2 and 3 tests available from April 2024. We’ll be in touch with people with an ADI test that is currently on hold to offer them a test date. In the meantime, I thank you for your patience if you’re affected by this.
Making progress, but more to do
We’ve made some good progress, but we still have long way to go.
It’s challenging work, and we’ve been up against unforeseen circumstances, such as the continued increase in demand and changes to customers' booking behaviour. There are also factors beyond our control, such as impact of bad weather, seen most recently with Storms Isha and Jocelyn.
I know many of you will be keen to know what measures we’ll be taking to reduce waiting times from April. We’ll update you on this as soon as we can.
Thank you for your continued support
While we continue to work towards reducing the waiting time, we know that it’s not something we can achieve without your support, patience and understanding.
We know that you continue to emphasise the importance of only taking the test when your pupils are ready, and many of you are using the Ready to Pass? campaign resources to help.
I want to say a big thank you for helping to promote the campaign as its helping us to change learner drivers behaviour.
I hope this blog post has helped to show you the progress that is being made to reduce driving test waiting times and the work that still needs to be done. I will continue to keep you up-to-date over the coming months.
About commenting on this blog post
We know that there are lots of different views about driving test waiting times.
We'll only publish new questions and comments that have not come up on previous blog posts.
We cannot answer individual questions about the latest driving test waiting times. The driving test booking service will always have the latest information.
This is not about censoring your views. It’s to make sure comments keep on topic and help to answer any questions about the progress we’re making.
An incorrect figure in the blog post was updated on 9 February 2024.