Huge backlog of driving licences and tests continue as experts warn of ’24 week wait’

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Latest data from the Driver and Vehicles Licensing Agency (DVLA) shows that paper applications of some licences from mid-October are still being processed. The DVLA is currently processing paper applications for driving licences with new photos as of October 13, 2021 – almost 12 weeks ago.

Paper applications of over 70s driving licences and applications to change names or addresses on their licence are also being processed as of the same date.

Some applications, including new tachograph cards or a first vocational driving licence, are being processed more recently, with any applications before December 22 having already been looked at.

The DVLA, along with many other Government agencies, have been hit hard by the pandemic, forcing this backlog of applications.

Its website states: “As a result of ongoing COVID safety measures and the impact of previous industrial action by members of the Public and Commercial Services union, there are ongoing delays with processing paper applications.

“Our online services are working as normal and without delay. This is the quickest, easiest, and often cheapest way to deal with us.

“We recommend that you use our online services where possible.”

Driving tests have also been hit hard by the pandemic, with instructors being forced to adhere to Covid guidelines, limit the number of driving lessons and practical tests.

Ian McIntosh, CEO of RED Driving School, commented on the backlog, saying that young people are being held back by the backlog.

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Speaking to, he said: “In some parts of the country, learner drivers face a wait of up to 24 weeks for a driving test.

“With 2,000 17 years olds entering the market every day and with driving lessons and tests being cancelled during the lockdown months, the backlog has built up.

“New figures published by the Department for Transport show the number of practical car driving tests conducted in Britain between April and June 2021 was 26 percent lower compared with the same period in 2019.

“Driving schools are also having to cater to a huge surge in demand – at RED, we have seen a fourfold increase in the number of enquiries from learner drivers this year alone and our instructors have never been busier.

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