Calderdale’s learner drivers face 12 week wait for test

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Frustrated learner drivers in Calderdale are facing waits of up to 12 weeks to take their driving test because of a backlog caused by a shortage of examiners.

Analysis has revealed that figures for waiting times across the county vary from anything between five and 18 weeks, with more than 6,000 tests cancelled in Yorkshire in the last year alone.

The “horrendous” situation, say instructors, is forcing them to book driving tests for their students before they’ve even had their first lesson.

“It’s unbelievably frustrating,” said Noel Gaughan, an instructor who has set up a nationwide petition to Parliament, securing nearly 4,000 signatures. “We have lots of people ringing. Lots of people crying.

“If someone was to fail a test for something simple, then they just have to wait. The chance of them passing a second time is nigh on impossible.

“It’s an unbelievably crazy situation. It’s horrific - and it’s affecting a hell of a lot of people.

“I’ve heard of waits up to 20 weeks. They are taking people’s money - there’s no reason for waiting lists to be as long as they are. It’s unbelievably frustrating. I’m incredulous.”

Official figures show that learner drivers face a postcode lottery as to how long they have to wait for a test.

In some areas - with Horsforth, Harrogate and Whitby being the worst - students are waiting more than four months for a test while in others, such as Steeton, near Keighley, options are available within five weeks.

Analysis of Government statistics shows that thousands of tests are bring cancelled across the country.

In the year to March 2016, a total 53,575 driving tests were cancelled across the country - an increase of 36 per cent in just two years.

More than 6,246 tests were cancelled in Yorkshire in the last nine months of 2015 alone.

DVSA Head of Operations, Phil Lloyd, said staff shortages were to blame.

“The increase in demand for driving tests is continuing, and we acknowledge that waiting times are currently higher than we would like in some of our locations,” he said.

“We are working to address this as quickly as possible and will continue with further examiner recruitment campaigns throughout 2016.”

The agency had recruited 193 new examiners in the past year, he said, with a further 44 starting since April.

“We have made offers to an additional 114 people, who are currently either attending the new entrant training course, or awaiting to attend,” he added.

“DVSA conducts over 1.7 million car practical driving tests each year and only a small number of these are cancelled by the agency.

“We recognise that short notice cancellations are very disappointing for our customers and work to ensure that tests can go ahead wherever possible.”