Why Can’t I Book a Driving Test?

Why can’t I book a driving test? That’s a question many learner drivers are asking; and there are a number of reasons. But are they really telling you the truth?

According to Loveday Ryder, the Chief Executive of the DVSA, the three main reasons are:

  • an increase in forecast demand caused by a stronger than expected economy
  • sustained industrial action (driving examiners striking)
  • low customer confidence in driving test availability, resulting in a change in customers’ booking behaviour

As someone with insider information however, I need to seriously question those comments.

book a driving testYes there may have been an increase in demand; but the DVSA have many senior managers who are very highly paid to make plans and forecasts. So is Ms Ryder admitting that these managers are not doing their jobs properly?

She also blames ‘sustained industrial action.’ Whilst it is true that there may have been a sustained threat of industrial action, in most instances the threat has not materialised. Although DVSA management and its workforce have long been in disagreement; compromises have been reached and strikes have been postponed. So this has not had any real impact on the driving test waiting list times.

Booking Behaviour?

As for her third reason; ‘low customer confidence’ creating ‘a change in customer’s booking behaviour’. That one left me scratching my head. If a customer wants to book a driving test, they make a call or go online to do that. They cannot book more than one test slot at a time; and if they fail a test they must wait a minimum period of time before booking another one. Nothing has changed in that respect so I’m at a loss to understand what she means.

Some driving test candidates have resorted to using driving test cancellation apps that promise to look out for available slots. But this is nothing new, they have been around for a while. And although these apps can continually search for cancelled slots, they can still only offer you one at a time. They can also be unreliable, with many people who use them ending up losing money.

Let’s look at other reasons for the long driving test waiting times.

Firstly, the lockdown from the Covid-19 pandemic created a huge number of driving test cancellations. There is no doubt that this was one of the primary causes. But what other reasons are there?

A Shortage of Driving Examiners

The DVSA do not have enough driving examiners. Examiners are civil servants, and for well over a decade they have suffered an ever decreasing pay packet due to sub-inflation pay rises, or a complete pay freeze altogether. In real terms their pay has steadily been decreasing for over 12 years. Yet senior management have been demanding longer working hours and taking away other long-held benefits. As a direct result of this, staff are leaving in droves and they cannot recruit new examiners under the terms they are offering.

DVSA are currently offering examiners overtime incentives to try and bring down the waiting list times. They are also taking examiners who had moved up to management, back to the shop floor to conduct driving tests. But this however, is not enough.

So the next time you ask yourself ‘Why can’t I book a driving test?’, the answer is probably and simply, because the DVSA do not employ enough staff to carry out the core role for which the agency was set up.

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