Learner drivers who have put their practical driving test on hold have been told they will need to choose a date or risk losing their booking.
The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) has said that learners will have until the end of August to select a new date, after which it will cancel their booking and issue a refund.
Drivers are allowed to make a booking and put it on hold if there are no suitable available tests. However, the on-hold option is only supposed to be used in specific circumstances, including where the test is at a remote site, if a candidate needs an extended test or where a candidate needs additional support, for example if they have a disability or are pregnant.
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In a message to instructors, the DVSA said that “large number” of current on-hold bookings didn’t fall into the accepted categories and warned that it would have to take action if learners didn’t choose a new test date.
It said: “We will be contacting anyone with a booking on hold to let them know that they need to choose a test date by the end of Tuesday 31 August 2021.
“We are continuing to add new test slots, so if your pupil cannot find a test initially, please encourage them to keep looking regularly. If they do not choose a test slot by the end of Tuesday 31 August 2021, we will cancel their on hold booking and issue them a full refund.”
Learners have faced almost a year of disruption and delays in securing a practical driving test due to the impact of the Covid outbreak.
After being suspended during lockdown, driving tests are once again taking place around the country. Around 400,000 candidates have tests booked but capacity is still more limited than before the pandemic and learners are facing waits of up to four months to secure a test.
The DVSA has been forced to limit the number of tests carried out per day to reduce examiners’ risk of infection and due to staff absence. It has faced calls to take more action to increase test availability and has extended the number of test slots at weekends, hired 300 additional examiners and drafted in qualified office staff and managers to act as examiners in an effort to offer more tests.