Paisley learners travel to Blackpool for theory tests due to covid backlog

Learner drivers in Cashmere are making a 400 mile round trip to Blackpool to take their theory tests, as covid delays have resulted in a four-month backlog.

Those who have to take the test are making the long distance journey across the border as waiting lists are significantly shorter than they are currently in Renfrewshire.

Current social distancing regulations in Scotland have limited the number of people who can show up at testing centers, resulting in long 16-week queues to secure a spot.

And the waitlist for practice tests is even longer, with the first available slot at Paisley almost six months old in November.

However, in England social distancing has been reduced to one meter, allowing more to take the test at the same time – with a waiting list of just three weeks.

Driving instructor Paisley Peter Harvey is the National President of the Motor Schools Association of Great Britain, which provides information and support to instructors.

He told the Express: “People from this area are going to Blackpool to take their theory test because they can’t wait the 16 weeks to take a test at Paisley.

“As soon as slots become available, they are immediately taken, so it is very difficult to book a theory test.

“Learners face the same problems with a practice test.

“Right now, the first practice test available at Paisley is in November.

“There are people who may have been waiting since last March to book a test and they just aren’t able to do it because the demand is incredibly high. “

Time is running out for many learners as you need to take the practical exam within two years of passing the knowledge exam.

This means that many of those who took the theory test in 2019 before the pandemic have to take their practice test before the end of the year or have to pay to retake the theory test.

Both practice tests were suspended in January due to restrictions, but resumed last month.

Peter helped lead a national petition calling on the government to extend the validity period of theory test certificates after thousands of practice tests were canceled.

The petition was supported by nearly 100,000 people across the country. However, the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) said that with new drivers being disproportionately represented in crashes, the government would not consider expanding knowledge test certificates.

Peter, who has run Harvey’s School of Motoring for 43 years, added: “What we asked was just to change the expiration dates from 2021 to 2022.

“The reason the extension was not considered was to make sure that people kept to a reasonable level of knowledge to ensure safety on the road.

“However, the government has authorized the six-month extension of technical checks of the cars, which in my opinion raises more concerns about safety on the roads.

“So now people are in a situation where, if they have a valid theory test that expires in 2021, they have to take their practice test before that date or they have to start all over again. “

A spokesperson for the DVSA said the department was doing everything possible to clear the backlog of theory tests.

From Monday, the DVSA also increased the number of practice tests allowed each day to help cope with the waiting list.

The spokesperson added: “We can only increase the number of tests when physical distancing restrictions are relaxed by the Scottish Government.”

Comments are closed.