Driving school seeks to recruit new instructors to ease test backlog

Asia's Tech News Daily

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One the Britain’s largest driving schools is looking to recruit 400 new instructors as the backlog for tests continues, more than a year after the pandemic halted lessons.

RED Driving School said it has a fast-track training scheme for those wanting to enter the industry in a bid to help the backlog of thousands of learners pass their tests.

It comes as some are waiting up to 24 weeks for a driving test in parts of the country with 2,000 new 17 year-olds starting every day.

Despite thousands more looking to get on the road, the number of practical car driving exams conducted in Britain during April to June 2021 was 26 per cent lower compared with the same period in 2019, according to statistics produced by the DVSA.

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Separate research from Veygo by Admiral also revealed three in five driving instructors offered no booking availability for at least six weeks, with some waiting times as long as six months. 

In a bid to speed up the process, the DVSA is calling on retired examiners and those qualified to conduct tests, but who do not do so as part of their day job, to return to tackle the backlog.

Additionally, tests are being conducted on weekends and on public holidays in an attempt to speed up the waiting times, and elsewhere, there is a campaign to employ an additional 300 examiners.

The DVSA is also taking steps to make the tests shorter with Unions hoping it will increase examiners’ workload to eight tests per day to further increase provision.

The Department for Transport announced that a record number of car theory tests were conducted between April and June of 2021.

However, despite testing levels at a high, both practical driving tests and driving lessons are still in high demand – and are likely to stay that way. 

This is due in part to the amount of new 17 year olds wanting to learn to drive, but also the number of people shunning public transport because of the pandemic.

Costs are also adding up with This is Money previously reporting that one driver said she had splashed out on an extra 55 lessons due to the pandemic.   

Ian McIntosh, chief executive of RED Driving School, said: ‘We’re advising all learners to do the following: plan ahead and discuss their options with an instructor.

‘It is vital to know when the earliest you can take your test is, and to work back from that date so you can engineer the programme to your advantage. Prepare. Do not panic.

‘Have two hourly lessons per week, and ensure the entire curriculum has been covered. Many parents reflect on their own experience of passing in 10 hours. It’s not like that anymore. You need to be patient with yourself.

‘If you do fail your test, don’t be too disheartened– the backlog won’t be here forever, and once you pass your test, it will all be worth it.’ 

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Does where you live affect your test chances?

The area you live in may have an effect on how quickly you can get a lesson, according to data from Veygo.

It found wannabe drivers pay an average of £1,364 to learn to drive in the UK at £31 a lesson.

However, this goes up to £1,760 if you live in Edinburgh where prices surge to £40 for an hour-long lesson.

At the other end of the scale, lessons costs an average of just £26 in Nottingham coming to a total of £1,144. 

Availability can also depend on where you live with driving instructors in Sheffield, Brighton, Liverpool and Edinburgh having the least availability.

All providers surveyed in the city were also fully booked for at least six weeks, with some schools in Manchester and Nottingham predicting waiting lists to be full until March next year.

However, lessons were available in Birmingham after just two weeks whilst this went up to a three week wait for those in London. 

David Roberts, principal product manager at Veygo, said: ‘Over five months after tests and lessons recommenced, learner drivers all over the country are still facing frustratingly long waits for driving lessons, with some schools having no availability for the rest of this year.

‘With such long waits to book lessons, it could take learner drivers much longer to pass their test. On top of this, many learners will be on the lookout for driving test cancellations to speed up their test date, so they have less control over the date they receive.

‘Many driving schools already have lengthy waiting lists, so it’s likely to take months to clear the backlog after so many lessons and tests were cancelled in the last year during the pandemic.

‘Learners who want to get some extra practice behind the wheel while they are waiting for a lesson availability could consider getting learner driver insurance and practicing with friends or family.

‘If approached correctly, practicing with a friend or family member is a safe way to gain valuable road experience, and could give learners the experience and confidence they need to pass first time.’ 

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