Driving tests and lessons have been suspended since the end of 2020. Lessons will start again on 12 April 2021 with driving tests resuming from 22 April 2021. But there will be more pressure than ever on learner drivers to pass their test when they do get round to taking it.
Why are lessons and driving tests resuming at different times?
This is so the first learners to take their test post-lockdown have time for tuition before their test. Bearing in mind the average pass rate for tests is around one in two (45%), the authorities thought it unfair to plunge learners in at the deep end. Some would have had to take their test without any refresher lessons.
Will it be easy to get a test?
The Driving Instructors Association says there’s a backlog of around 430,000 tests. That means driving tests are hugely oversubscribed. So if you fail your test – and one in two learners will – you’re unlikely to be able to get a retest the following month. No pressure on learners then…
What about taking lessons?
There are approximately 38,000 driving instructors on the register. However, experts believe a significant number may have left the profession. Most will not have been able to earn money for months on end and a number will have changed profession. This might make finding an instructor more difficult. But depending on where you live in the country, it may make no difference at all.
What does this mean for learners?
There’s more pressure than ever for them to pass their test. And that might be a good thing for driving instructors. After a bruising period of being furloughed, the one thing driving instructors won’t want to hear is that their pupils are having lessons with their mum or dad instead.
But there’s a very good reason learners shouldn’t go down the parental path to learn to drive. As Carly Brookfield, chief executive of the Driving Instructors Association said: “Would you expect your mum or dad to get you through your A levels?”
Her thinking is that parents’ knowledge of driving and more specifically what’s required for drivers to pass their test tends to be outdated. A driving instructor is an expert at this. What’s more, Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency assessors test them every four years to ensure their knowledge is current.
Will lessons be different?
The actual structure of the lessons (as well as tests) will stay the same. However, young drivers and their instructors will have to wear face coverings. And drivers might want to wrap up warm as their instructors and examiners will probably insist on driving along with the windows open.
Instructors will also be encouraged to wipe down the interior of their cars with anti-bacteriological spray between lessons. This means the door handles inside and out, steering wheel, gear lever, indicator and wiper stalks and the sat nav, which is now a part of learning to drive.