'Huge backlog' of Sunderland learner drivers waiting for tests

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According to the research two North East learners will battle for each available test slot in 2024

The test backlog is nationwide. PA image.The test backlog is nationwide. PA image.
The test backlog is nationwide. PA image.

Researchers say 19,792 driving tests are wanted in Sunderland in 2024, even though only 10,491 were conducted in 2023.

Marmalade, an organisation which helps young drivers get insurance, says demand for practical driving tests in the UK far exceeds what the DVSA’s (Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency) can offer.

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According to the research, 145,539 learner drivers will have just 79,379 test slots in the North East in 2024.

The data, from Freedom of Information requests and existing Office for National Statistics, suggests that monthly demand for tests in 2024 exceeds the capacity by 19.5%.

Marmalade say that on average, the UK can conduct 163,998 tests per month by analysing the most recent data of all tests conducted in 2023; a shortfall of 31,984.

Across the UK, Marmalade estimates more than 3.7 million UK learners will compete for test slots in 2024, 82% more than can be accommodated. It is further estimated that 3.92% of the backlog is in the North East.

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This means that in the North East, two learners will battle for every one available driving test slot in 2024 with 145,539 learners battling for 79,379 tests, suggesting a backlog of 66,160.

Marmalade predicts the backlog "will remain indefinitely with no signs of stopping, continuing to grow until capacity increases within the testing system".

Chris Lawson of Marmalade, said: “Learner drivers up and down the UK are being impacted by this backlog and a fundamental disparity between the capacity for testing and this high demand.

"Until testing capacity can increase, we don’t believe that the backlog will ever end, it will only get worse and learners will continue to face a lottery when it comes to securing a test.

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“This backlog and the pent-up demand opens up learners to a risk of exploitation as third parties take advantage of that desperation, which we’ve seen in recent months.”

The survey of learner drivers across the UK, found that 77% cite the extra cost of more lessons as the biggest frustration in the delay for tests, followed by postponing independence and freedom at 68%.

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