By TOM FAIR and GEORGE WILLOUGHBY
The number of driving tests carried out last year was the lowest since records began.
Lessons and tests have stopped as England entered another lockdown at the start of the month.
Data from the Department for Transport showed that the number of practical tests in cars fell by 60% in the latest year.
Motorcycle tests were also down 40%.
The UK government made the decision to suspend all lessons and tests from 5 January until restrictions are eased.
A spokesperson from the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency said:
“Current guidance states that you can only practice driving with members of your household or support bubble as part of travel for work, education or other essential journeys.”
“We will email candidates who are affected by this to let them know we will reschedule their test.”
Gavin Bradley has been a driving instructor for 13 years. He and his students have found lockdown incredibly frustrating.
“It has been pretty bad from the DVSA. It has been crazy for everyone,” said Bradley.
“It has all been vague from them and the government. All you would get with each of these lockdowns so far is instructions by email, no guidance or advice or anything.
“One of my students had a test booked for 15 January. Then it got cancelled – the DVSA only told her, not me.”
Advice on the DVSA website says that instructors would be notified when practical tests are cancelled.
Tests will need to be rescheduled but under the current restrictions, they will continue indefinitely.
Gavin was preparing for the financial impact another lockdown would have. He fears for other instructors who struggled to secure income during the pandemic.
“I have been working all through December and all throughout Christmas,” said Bradley. “I had an inkling that we would go back into a lockdown.”
“I kept seeing the rising infection rates and thinking there would be no chance it will go on for much longer. There is still going to be a massive backlog for me now, for lessons and students and tests.
“I am one of the lucky ones. I’ve been at it for a while, so I was able to get my grant. I feel bad for those who could not, all they get is loans. And when will they get the money to pay it back?”
No in-person instruction is allowed under current restrictions, and it will remain that way until the lockdown is reviewed in February.
This means there is not much advice Gavin can give to his students.
“I have just had to say, if you are doing your theory, then practise, practise, practise. All I can do otherwise is encourage them and put out some inspirational posts on my Instagram.”
If you are an instructor, how do you feel about the current restrictions and the return to teaching in the future?
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