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The 10 worst places for driving test waiting times in the UK

Georgia Petrie

Written by

Georgia Petrie

Learner driver Citroen C3
  • New drivers in the UK are waiting on average 14 weeks for a practical test
  • Some learners will have to wait longer with some test centres having an 18-week backlog
  • The DVSA has been forced to cancel over 240,000 tests over the past 12 months due to the Coronavirus pandemic

Learner drivers across the UK are facing long wait times to take their practical driving tests due to a huge backlog caused by Covid-19 lockdowns in 2020 and 2021.

The DVSA (Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency) cancelled a mountainous 241,127 tests between April 2020 and March 2021, which means learner drivers across the country will struggle to book their practical tests. On average, there's a 14-week wait for a test slot — but various test centres had an 18-week backlog (between April 2020 and March 2021).

Through a Freedom of Information request, we've found the test centres that have the longest wait times in England, Scotland and Wales. Read on to find out how long you'll have to wait to take your test at your local driving test centre.

Bottom 10 places in England for driving test waiting times

These are the test centre locations in England with the longest waiting times (between April 2020 and March 2021)

Driving test centre

    • 1) Halifax Maltings
    • 2) Cheadle
    • 3) Isles of Scilly
    • 4) Westbury
    • 5) Enfield (Brancroft Way)
    • 6) Greenford (Whitten Ave East)
    • 7) Hendon (London)
    • 8) Bristol (Jubilee House)
    • 9) Bradford (Manningham)
    • 10) Northwich

Practical driving test wait time (in weeks)

    • 18
    • 18
    • 18
    • 18
    • 18
    • 18
    • 18
    • 17
    • 17
    • 17

Bottom 10 places in Scotland for driving test waiting times (between April 2020 and March 2021)

These are the test centre locations in Scotland with the longest waiting times

Driving test centre

    • 1) Crieff
    • 2) Inveraray
    • 3) Mallaig
    • 4) Callander
    • 5) Campbeltown
    • 6) Grantown-on-Spey
    • 7) Isle of Mull
    • 8) Isle of Tiree
    • 9) Kyle of Lochalsh
    • 10) Thurso

Practical driving test wait time (in weeks)

    • 18
    • 18
    • 18
    • 17
    • 17
    • 17
    • 17
    • 17
    • 17
    • 17

When will theory and practical driving tests restart?

In England, driving lessons restarted on 12 April and practical tests resumed on 22 April. Theory Tests resumed on 12 April. The same dates go for Wales — however, in Scotland, driving lessons and theory tests are expected to restart from 26 April with practical tests to resume on 6 May. The practical test costs £62 on weekdays and £75 at weekends. In Northern Ireland, the practical costs £45.50 on weekdays and £62.50 at weekends.

There are five parts to the practical driving test: an eyesight check, ‘show me, tell me’ questions, general driving ability, reversing your vehicle and a section of independent driving. In total, you’ll drive for around 40 minutes.

You’ll be asked two vehicle safety questions known as the ‘show me, tell me’ questions. For example, "Tell me how you’d check that the headlights and tail lights are working" and "Can you show me how you'd switch on your dipped headlights?"

The examiner will then give you directions that you should follow. You'll be asked to do things like stopping at the side of the road and hill starts, as well as parallel parking or reversing in/out of a bay. You'll then have to independently drive for 20 minutes by following either directions from a sat nav, traffic signs and/or the examiner's instructions. The examiner won't give you a fault for taking a wrong turn, though.

You must pass both parts of the theory test (the multiple-choice part and the hazard perception test) before you can book your practical test. The theory test costs £23 and is taken on a computer at an official DVSA test centre. You need to score 43 or more out of 50. For the hazard perception section of the test, you need to score 44 out of 75. 

Bottom 5 places in Wales for driving test waiting times

These are the test centre locations in Wales with the longest waiting times (between April 2020 and March 2021)

Driving test centre

    • 1) Llandrindod Wells
    • 2) Bridgend
    • 3) Llantrisant
    • 4) Merthyr Tydfil
    • 5) Newtown

Practical driving test wait time (in weeks)

    • 18
    • 16
    • 16
    • 15
    • 15

Which driving test centres have seen the most cancellations?

As you'd probably expect, cities with higher populations cancelled more tests in 2020 than smaller towns. There were multiple test centres that cancelled more than 2000 tests between April and September 2020. These include West Didsbury in Manchester (2737), London (2403), Fleming Way in Isleworth (2229), Garrett’s Green in Birmingham (2128) and Brookmount Court in Cambridge (2189).

The data also shows that there were considerably more tests cancelled from April to June 2020 than July to September 2020. These dates coincide with the general timescale of the lockdowns across the UK, with lockdown measures legally coming into force for the first time on 26 March and easing in early July.

At the end of September, restrictions began tightening once again — including a return to working from home — followed by a second national lockdown, which began on 5 November.

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