The driving centre where learners still have to wait nearly HALF A YEAR for a test: Our interactive tool reveals average waiting times at Britain’s 243 test centres
- EXCLUSIVE: Our interactive maps shows waiting times for all 243 driving test centres in Britain
- These are based on the average delays recorded over the 12-month period from April 2022 to March 2023
Learners desperate to get their hands on a driving licence are still being forced to wait weeks, if not months, to sit their practical tests as a result of the ongoing backlog built up during pandemic lockdowns.
And despite the best efforts of the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency to cut waiting times over the last three years, exclusive figures shared with MailOnline and This is Money lay bare the length of delays learners face at their local test stations.
Official data gathered from the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) show the current wait times at all 243 test centres across Britain and how they compare to pre-pandemic times – and it shows that by travelling just a few miles away to different centres could shorten their waiting period by weeks.
The data has been revealed by Route-Led – a new app that plots the driving test routes at every centre across the country, meaning learners can use it as a cheat code to practice ahead of sitting the driving examination.
How long are practical driving test waiting times near YOU? To use our interactive map, zoom into the area where you live and click on the icons to reveal the average delay period over the last 12 months and how it compares to pre-pandemic times.
Official figures show that average waiting times for driving tests are now around double what they were in 2020 to more than three and a half months.
Despite the DVSA increasing testing hours, bringing older invigilators out of retirement and introducing new rules and stipulations, it has so far failed to reduce the logjam of learners.
The agency’s latest attempt is to force people not to take the test until they are absolutely ready to do so by extending the period between when they can rebook the exam after failing one, increasing this from 10 to 28 days.
However, Route-Led says the DVSA would slash its backlog by encouraging learners to choose test centres with shorter waiting lists to alleviate the pressure on those with longer delays – with some sites within 10 miles of others offering far earlier tests in some instances.
In March, it submitted a Freedom of Information request to the DVSA requesting data for the average waiting time at each of its 243 driving test centres in England, Wales and Scotland between 1 April 2019 and 31 March 2020 and between 1 April 2022 and 31 March 2023. The DVSA is not responsible for driver testing in Northern Ireland.
The research reveals Wales had the shortest average waiting time of two months at the end of March this year.
Scotland’s driving test centres have the longest average waiting time of almost four months and those for England are just over three and a half months.
In terms of the specific test centres, Bradford (Thornbury), Bolton (Manchester), Hamilton, Hendon (London) and Glasgow (Shieldhall) had the longest average delays of nearly six months at the end of March this year.
In contrast Cardigan and Carmarthen has the shortest average waiting time of just one month.
> You can see the full list of 243 test centres and their average waiting times on Route-Led’s own website.
The research reveals Wales had the shortest average waiting time of two months at the end of March this year. Scotland’s driving test centres have the longest average waiting time of almost four months and those for England are just over three and a half months
Switching to a test centre a few miles away can slash waiting times by months
Detailed analysis of the data reveals that learners can significantly reduce their delay period between booking and sitting a test by travelling further to take the exam.
For example, learner drivers in Bolton could more than half their waiting time from six months by booking a driving test 16 miles away in Sale or Rochdale, where the average waiting time was two and half months.
In the capital, drivers living in Hendon (23.1 week waiting time) can slash their test waiting times by 10 weeks if they travel an extra 6.6 miles to the Barnet test station (13.1 week waiting time).
Learner drivers waiting an average of 18.3 weeks might want to consider driving 16 miles to Darlington where the average duration between booking and sitting a practical is 9 weeks.
Learners can more than half their practical driving test waiting times by considering a testing centre further afield than their local site
There’s a similar scenario in Birmingham, where the average waiting time is 18.9 weeks but within 30 miles are test stations in Nuneaton and Stafford with wait periods of just 10.8 and 7.7 weeks respectively.
Learners living in Liverpool can expect to have to twiddle their thumbs for 18.4 weeks before they can sit a practical test, but centres less than 10 miles away in Upton and Wallasey will be able to fit them in less than 11 weeks.
Other instances north of the border including long waiting times in Edinburgh of 18.8 weeks but Kirkaldy and Galashiels is far less extensive at 12.3 and 10.4 weeks respectively. And in Glasgow, the average delay is 22.3 weeks, but in Ayr it’s just 7.7 weeks.
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