Tens of thousands of learners across the UK have been unable to take their driving exams due to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic – and that means about £ 1.1 million in theory exams passed, according to one study.
Provisional licensees could get up to £ 2.3 million out of pocket from a combination of expired theory test certificates on last year’s two national bans and the cost of retaking the £ 23 exam.
It is estimated that additional certificates worth £ 320,000 will be used up during the current revocation.
Learners lost because the government refuses to extend the theory test expiration date even though the driving tests are suspended.
Learners have more than a million pounds out of pocket: theoretical test certificates worth over 1.1 million pounds expired during the 2020 lockdowns, and another 230,000 pounds are running out in the current restrictions
With the country back under lockdown restrictions, driving instructors and other industry insiders have again urged the government to renew the certificates as both practical and theoretical tests were suspended after the Department of Transportation rejected the proposal in November.
Data obtained by auto insurer Marmalade through multiple freedom of information requests to the Driving and Vehicle Standards Agency revealed that 49,543 theoretical test certificates expired during the two national bans in 2020, representing a loss of £ 1,139,489.
Assuming all learners pay to retake the test, a price of £ 46 for two theory tests means this group of lockdown learners would have spent almost £ 2.3 million on theory tests.
If only half the test is repeated, the cost is still high at £ 1.7 million.
May was considered the biggest month for losses. Theoretical tests alone lost £ 296,102 as all certificates expired.
While the second national lockdown in November cost learners £ 147,591 and 6,417 certificates expired during the month-long lockout period.
With the test centers closed again and the UK government’s announced certificate expiry dates not being extended, learners have to face more delays in obtaining a license.
In the 149 days of delays in 2020, an average of 332 tests per day expired.
Using this average number, it is estimated that over the next six weeks – if this ends in mid-February – 13,944 tests will run for a total loss of £ 320,712 or £ 7,636 per day for UK learner drivers.
In the 149 days with delays in 2020, according to an analysis of the DVSA records by the insurer Marmalade, an average of 332 tests per day ran
Crispin Moger, head of Marmalade, commented on the data and what it means for learner drivers: “I do not doubt that there will have been many learner drivers who would have planned to take their test in the multiple affected periods. Britain bans and is now lost through no fault of its own to have.
“Learners whose certificates have expired must take the exam and pass it again before they can take their practical driving test. This extends the waiting time and increases the backlog, which we expect for 2021.
“For some, this is just another barrier to freedom, and for many it will be an obstacle where a driving test pass was the focus of their plans.”
The latest online petition calls for the theoretical test certificates to be extended by 12 months
Petitions have been tabled asking the government to renew theoretical test certificates.
Earlier appeals called for a three-month extension, while another, currently on-site with over 30,000 signatures, called for a twelve-month extension.
An extension would save learners the additional cost of retaking their tests, but would also reduce the blockage from those desperate to take their hands-on assessments as soon as data is available and reduce the increasing pressure on theoretical test centers once they reopen allowed to.
Nonetheless, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Department of Transport, Rachel Maclean, confirmed in November that the certificates will not be renewed.
She said, “The two-year validity period for the theoretical test certificate is set by law, and the government has decided not to enact any further laws to extend it.
‘The main reason is that the two year validity is in place to ensure that an applicant’s theoretical knowledge and hazard awareness skills are up to date at the critical point where they are driving alone for the first time.
Extending the validity would give less assurance that this is the case.
“Those whose certificates previously expired and have since passed the theory test now have another two years to pass the practical test.”
The DVSA has a huge backlog of learner drivers waiting to take their practical tests
Responding to the launch of the latest online petition, Ian McIntosh, Executive Director of RED Driving School, said the refusal to extend it was a “great injustice for learners”.
“We believe that if the test centers reopen and the normal two-year expiration date is extended, all students who have passed their theory tests by April 2018 will be allowed to take a hands-on test,” he told This is Money.
“The theory test is expensive and difficult to pass, and learners cannot pass a practical test without a valid theory test certificate, which means that thousands of learners will have to wait even longer to get their driver’s license.
Most of the driving tests resulted
1. 158 attempts – male, 42, England – passed at a cost of £ 3,634 *
2. 117 attempts – female, 34, England – failed at a cost of £ 2,691
3. 94 attempts – male, 32, Wales – failed at a cost of £ 2,162
4th 94 attempts – female, 48, England – passed at a cost of £ 2,162
5. 92 attempts – male, 35, England – passed at a cost of £ 2,116
6th 87 attempts – male, 33, England – passed at a cost of £ 2,001
7th 86 attempts – male, 30, England – failed at a cost of £ 1,978
8th. 80 attempts – male, 41, England – passed at a cost of £ 1,840
9. 78 attempts – male, 43, England – failed at a cost of £ 1,794
10. 77 attempts – male, 42, England – failed at a cost of £ 1,771
Source: DVSA data published as part of Select Car Leasing’s FOI inquiry
* Costs for trials based on the theoretical test price of £ 23
‘The resits will put tremendous pressure on DVSA when they reopen theoretical test centers as there will be a large backlog of existing learners as well as new learners who are 17 years old and want to avoid public transport.
“The government’s failure to renew certificates for theoretical test runs is an unnecessary bureaucratic bottleneck that could hinder the country’s Covid rebounding, especially if learners cannot obtain licenses for work purposes.”
McIntosh responded directly to Rachel Maclean’s comments, adding, “Expanding the theoretical test run certificates would not pose a threat to road safety as the theoretical knowledge retained on” Covid test passers “will still exceed that of the average British driver.”
Northern Ireland has announced an extension while the UK government has announced not to extend the period, which will certainly have been a blow to learners.
Last week, This is Money announced that some motorists have spent more than £ 3,600 to pass their driving tests, with one man in England failing the theory test a staggering 157 times.
As for the practical test, another man in England received his license for the 43rd time at the age of 72 after spending up to £ 3,225 on practical tests.
The full list of drivers who failed their driving exams on most occasions can be found in our dedicated report.
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