The wait is so long it even made the news.Some of my pupils are booking driving tests online and are getting dates for the lovely month of August. It is fast approaching the middle of April. A waiting time approaching four months. This is less time than it takes some people to learn to drive from scratch. It's a situation which brings many problems for a driving instructor.
I encourage my pupils to get the theory test sorted from the very beginning of their training now. I explain the length of time it will take after passing the theory to get to the practical test so the earlier they can book and pass it the better. I suppose it adds some pressure to pass, as a fail would push the possible date for a practical test back by a further 3 to 4 weeks. If they do fail or wait until their driving is of a reasonable standard before taking the theory then some decisions have to be made.
Many people understandably don't want to pay for months of lessons they don't believe they need. Who can blame them? Driving lessons are not cheap and a three month wait really adds to the cost of learning by a significant amount. We can argue that the extra training is never wasted but people only have so much money to spend. We then have to explore other options.
They can pack in the lessons until nearer the time of the test. I don't book so far in advance as I find it causes problems with existing pupils if they suddenly can't have their usual time because someone booked it in advance. I tell the test person that I will do what I can nearer the test but I can't guarantee fitting them back in. The best solution would be to keep up the lessons and look online every day to see if a cancellation can be found. If they do find one they have to grab it straight away before someone else does. If they check with me first you can bet your bottom dollar it will have gone by the time they get back online.
Some people keep up the practice with parents which can lead to some poor habits forming and a general drop in the driving standard. Others want to take a lesson every two weeks which I won't do because it leaves spaces which are hard to fill as most people want a weekly lesson. Others look to book tests in other towns which would take most of the day to get there and back as well as not having any knowledge of the test area.
A fail on the driving test is now a much more serious drawback. Pupils know there is a long wait for a second attempt which only adds to the pressure on the day. If they need a driving licence for a job then the four months wait could seriously scupper their plans. If you know you can take another test in three weeks then the pressure is not so great.
To overcome this I find people are looking for driving lessons after booking a test some time in advance. Problem is they try to start lessons with only a few weeks to go before the test date. The pupil is then full of false expectation that they will be ready. When they see it will take more time than they have left themselves they pressure the instructor to get them ready and work a few miracles. The whole situation is a sorry mess.
Three weeks should be the maximum amount anyone should have to wait for a driving test. At the moment the waiting times are making life hard for everybody. Poor planning on behalf of the DVSA in allowing examiner numbers to fall is a major factor I would say. Hopefully things will improve soon.
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