According to a survey of 150 driving instructors from across the country undertaken by Young Driver, 70% say they still have a waiting list for starting lessons – with 39% of those admitting pupils are in for a long wait before they can begin learning.
66% of the instructors questioned also said that in their experience the waits for driving tests haven’t reduced at all, with many of their pupils facing long delays before they can book their practical assessment. The remaining 34% felt things had improved slightly since the summer – but zero respondents to the survey felt it was anywhere near being ‘back to normal’.
Young Driver, the UK’s largest pre-17 driving school, asked instructors for their advice to those waiting to begin learning on the road. Instructors advised planning early was the key – 16 year olds should apply for their provisional licence in plenty of time, as there have been delays with paperwork, as well as trying to secure a driving instructor up to six months before when they want to begin lessons.
Many advised that learners should also use the opportunity to get ahead in their theory knowledge. However, several warned those just starting out not to book their test on the off chance they’d be ready when the time came, saying that was causing additional strain on the system.
Sue Waterfield is head of marketing at Young Driver, which teaches 10-17 year olds how to drive. She said: “We work with qualified driving instructors across the UK and from what we’re hearing, things aren’t improving at all when it comes to getting learners through their lessons, passing their tests and on the road. Driving is an essential life skill for many young people, particularly for those in rural areas who may not be able to rely on public transport.
“So, denying them that opportunity can have huge repercussions in terms of education, employment and mental wellbeing. At Young Driver we’ve noticed we have had an increase in 16 and 17 year olds taking lessons to prepare the best they can for when they manage to get an on the road instructor. It makes sense to gain as much safe experience as possible ahead of that time.
“Our pupils have already learnt the basics of how to steer, change gear, brake, park and manoeuvre, meaning they can use the on the road lessons to learn more about how to safely navigate other road users and handle some of the more complex aspects of driving.
“Learners can also utilise technology. In lockdown we launched an app which has everything you need to help prepare for the theory test, as well as 360° VR tuition videos which cover different situations on the road, helping viewers get to grips with some key manoeuvres when they can’t get behind the wheel.”
Young Driver has delivered more than one million driving lessons to 10-17 year olds at its 70 UK venues. For more information visit www.youngdriver.com or download the Young Driver App.