Learner drivers forced to wait 15 weeks for driving tests in Bury St Edmunds and Lowestoft
PUBLISHED: 17:19 11 August 2015 | UPDATED: 17:19 11 August 2015
Learner drivers across East Anglia are facing some of the longest waits in the country to book their practical test due to a lack of examiners.
People currently face a 15-week wait at Lowestoft and Bury St Edmunds test centres, while drivers in Norwich are facing waits of 16 weeks.
The region’s figures compare negatively with the national picture, with the average being 6.7 weeks.
However, staff at test centres are being pushed to work longer hours to deal with the current demand, while the Driving and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) looks to employ new examiners.
Frustrated driving instructors have said that the problem has got worse over the past year, with some pupils forced to take their test further away or face having to fork out more money on driving lessons while they wait for a slot to open up at a test centre closer to home. Caroline Simpson, founder of Caroline’s Driving School, spoke of how the lack of examiners is leading to students finding out that their test has been cancelled on the day.
She said: “When I first started in 2002 there was usually a three to four-month wait, but then the numbers dropped to around the current national average.
“In recent times things have got as worse as I can remember.”
DVSA head of operations Phil Lloyd said: “We are working hard to address this as quickly as possible – we are in the process of recruiting more examiners.
“In the meantime staff are working additional hours to provide more tests where possible and we are temporarily bringing in examiners from other areas whenever we can. We are sorry for any inconvenience.”
The long wait for driving tests is forcing instructors to take their students further afield so they do not have to wait as long.
Paul Harmes, who runs a driving school in Norwich, is next week taking a student to do their test in Colchester, where the waiting list is halved.
He added: “The situation is ridiculous at the moment. Normally during the summer it gets busier, but for a student to have to wait from now until December is not acceptable.
“It is not just the wait, but it is the extra money that the students have to pay to keep on top of their driving until then.
“Some also rely on getting their driving sorted for their work or to secure a job.”