Driving test centres in Kent, including in Gillingham, Maidstone and Canterbury, continue to be fully booked for practical exams

Learner drivers in Kent are facing a six-month wait to book their practical test.

Driving tests resumed on April 12 after lockdown, but more than two months on new drivers continue to face long delays when trying to book exam appointments.

One driving school estimates it may take up to two years to clear the backlog caused by the pandemic
One driving school estimates it may take up to two years to clear the backlog caused by the pandemic

More than 450,000 tests were cancelled across the country during the coronavirus pandemic, with one driving test school in Kent warning that it could take up to two years to clear such a backlog.

And according to research into appointment availability at UK test centres, the long delays show little signs of easing.

Driving test slots are available to book through the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency online portal up to 24 weeks in advance, with the next batch of appointments released weekly.

New drivers are facing long delays before being able to tear-up their L-plates
New drivers are facing long delays before being able to tear-up their L-plates

According to investigations by learner driver insurance provider Veygo by Admiral, more than 75% of test centres have no driving test slots available for the next six months, including at nine test centres in Kent and south east London nearest to potential new drivers in the county looking to be granted their driving licence.

When checked by researchers, test centres in Gillingham, Canterbury, Ashford, Maidstone, Folkestone, Herne Bay, Sevenoaks, Tunbridge Wells and Sidcup had no test appointments available to book for the next six months.

This means, unless learners are able to snap-up cancellation slots by regularly checking the website for last-minute availability, new drivers logging onto the booking website won't be able to arrange their practical exam until at least the end of November as and when new batches of appointments become available.

Test centres in Kent had no appointments available for the next 24 weeks
Test centres in Kent had no appointments available for the next 24 weeks

The DVSA has announced it is increasing capacity across the country to 20,000 tests per day as part of its efforts to tackle this backlog.

Gunnar Peters, CEO at the learner driver insurance provider Veygo, said: “Almost two months after tests recommenced, learner drivers up and down the country are still facing frustratingly long waiting times. Availability in test centres is hit and miss, and in almost 75% of the 336 test centres we viewed, no slots were available to book.

“It’s clear that more needs to be done to support learner drivers, and while it’s encouraging that the DVSA last week announced an increase to 20,000 tests per month, with so many waiting for their turn it’s likely to take months to clear the backlog after so many tests were cancelled last year."

The best day to pass your driving test has also been revealed, according to DVSA pass figures. To find out which day you're statistically most likely to do well in a practical driving exam click here.

Read more teen-related news here

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