MORE than 5,000 driving tests in the Bradford district were cancelled last year because of the Covid-19 crisis, it has been revealed.

Figures from the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) show the scale of the impact, with one Bradford driving instructor describing the situation as “mayhem”. 

A total of 5,004 driving tests at Bradford centres were cancelled between March and December 2020 because of the pandemic - 2,082 at Heaton; 1,772 at Thornbury; 931 in Steeton and 219 in Manningham, which is a temporary centre.

The overall figure of cancelled tests will also be higher due to those which did not go ahead for other reasons, including medical reasons, the examiner taking annual or special leave or adverse weather conditions and bad light. 

While thousands of tests were cancelled, 2,365 took place at Thornbury between April and December, with a pass rate of 48 per cent, below the 50 per cent national average; 1,584 took place at Heaton, with a 49 per cent pass rate, and 1,088 took place at Steeton, with a 52 per cent pass rate.

Driving instructor Ayub Khan said people are unable to get a test until August/September this year and added: “It’s absolute mayhem at the moment, it’s worse than anything I’ve seen in my life. I’ve never seen it so bad. The backlog is shocking.”

He believes there should be a minimum standard for booking a driving test and claims bots buying up tests also forms part of the problem. Across Great Britain, 458,000 tests could not take place because of the pandemic in 2020, though the DVSA said there are currently 420,000 booked for when testing centres reopen.

Lessons have recommenced in England and Wales, with tests set to follow from  – and today and the AA is expecting huge demand.

Robert Cowell, interim managing director of AA Driving School, said: “Many pupils will have either had a big break in lessons, which may impact their confidence, or have had to postpone driving lessons for many, many months. For young people, who have already suffered disruption to their education, not being able to learn to drive will compound an already stilted start to adult life.”

He added that extending the validity period of theory test certificates – as has been the case for MOTs and driving licences – or offering a free re-sit, could help reduce demand, or at least lessen the financial impact.

Nicholas Lyes, head of roads policy at the RAC Foundation, added: “Learner drivers will breathe a sigh of relief that driving lessons and tests are restarting, however the backlog for those waiting for both practical and theory tests is likely to be huge.”

He also urged the DVSA to consider a short extension for those whose theory test has either expired, or is about to, but the Government has already said it will not do so.

A DVSA spokesman added: “Ensuring new drivers have current, relevant knowledge and skills to identify developing hazards is a vital part of the training for young and new drivers, who are disproportionality represented in casualty statistics.”

Meanwhile, figures from March show just 2.97 million people in Britain aged 16-25 hold a full licence – the smallest number since records began in 2012.