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Gloucestershire Business News

More driving tests to clear backlog

The Government has announced an extra 150,000 driving tests over the next six months to clear the backlog.

That should be good news for learners in Gloucestershire, who face the second longest wait for a test in England, according to figures from the AA released earlier this year.

Students waiting for a test in Cheltenham or Gloucester have to wait an average of 22.5 weeks. Only Essex has a longer wait - at 23.3 weeks.

Driving tests and lessons were suspended during the Covid-19 lockdowns and delays to the return of practical tests resulted in a huge backlog of learners waiting to book.

The average waiting time for a driving test before 2020 was just six weeks, from booking online to taking the test.

The backlog grew from 147,716 learners in August 2020 to 592,987 learners in August 2021.

Now students are forced to book their practical tests as soon as they pass their theory test. A student booking a test now in Cheltenham or Gloucester will be securing a date in March or even April.

And if they fail their test, they go back into the system with another five-month wait. Various apps are available to book cancelled tests and secure an earlier test, but it is pot luck.

Camilla Benitz, AA Driving School managing director, said: "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."

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