DVSA update: Update on driving test waiting times recovery measures

DVSA wrote to you last year about our decision to ask more qualified DVSA warrant card holders to test full time, to help reduce driving test waiting times. With the end of March only a few weeks away, DVSA has plans in place for the next steps.

From 1 April the additional qualified warrant card holders will be returning to their normal duties. They have also asked them to spend a small portion of their time doing car tests in the coming months to help continue to reduce driving test waiting times. They will update you with more details on this when they can.

This measure was never intended to be sustained on a long-term basis due to the potential impact that would have on the other statutory services DVSA offers.

Asking warrant card holders to resume their normal duties and test for a portion of their time will allow DVSA to return to delivering service levels for other statutory services it provides, whilst still working to reduce the driving test waiting time. 

Working towards targets

To date, this measure has created 125,284 additional tests towards the target of 150,000 and has helped reduce the waiting time from its peak in August 2023 of 20.6 weeks to an average of 16.1 weeks in February 2024. This is a move in the right direction but there is still more work to be done.

As well as asking qualified warrant card holders to continue testing for a period of their time until the end of September, they are also:

  • continuing to ask driving examiners from areas with lower waiting times to travel and test in centres with longer waiting times.
  • recruiting over 160 driving examiners in the areas where waiting times are highest.
  • continue to offer driving tests during weekends and bank holidays
  • raising awareness of the Ready to Pass? campaign to learner drivers, their friends and family and ADIs through the recently launched paid for social media activity

The long driving test waiting times have reduced confidence in being able to get a driving test, and this has changed the way that tests are booked. DVSA are now seeing tests being booked much earlier in the learning to drive process, which is affecting waiting times. They are running a number of surveys to gather insight to see what they can do to try to change this behaviour.

Returning to usual jobs

Asking so many trained colleagues to test full-time was not meant to be sustainable long term. as asking them to do so beyond 6 months would potentially impact the day-to-day work they do to improve road safety.

Asking them to go back to their usual jobs and continue to spend a portion of their time testing will allow them to return to their vital work. This includes:

  • restarting the policy initiatives across vehicle safety, enforcement and driver and rider testing which have been on hold
  • doing more ADI part 2 and 3 tests to increase the number of ADIs available to learner drivers
  • restarting our full programme of ADI engagement calls and standards checks, and returning to normal levels of CBT and vocational trainer compliance and enforcement visits

All of these will start to increase from 1 April, but it will take a few weeks for things to get back to normal – so please bear with them.


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