Learner drivers demand ‘pass’ to drive alone legally as tests cancelled due to coronavirus

DVLA explain the practical driving test

Experts at Bill Plant Driving School say they “simply don’t agree” with passing students simply due to inconvenience. The comments come after a new petition has called for a new law to allow instructors to simply pass their students if they feel a driver is competent behind the wheel.

This would reduce the heavy backlog on the DVSA with many drivers having their tests rearranged up to five times due to several lockdowns.

The petition has been signed by over 33,000 people meaning the Government will respond to the enquiry.

Those running the petition have already waited four days for a Government response but it’s highly unlikely any action will be taken.

Campaigners who launched the petition described how it was “unfair on learners” to wait a “long time” to secure a test.

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It said: “Allow learner drivers to be passed if their driving instructor feels they are safe to drive due to the failure of the Government to enable learners to book a test.

“It is unfair on learners who have been unable to book a test due to the pandemic to have to wait a significantly long time to have access to booking one.”

Young drivers praised the idea on social media with one learner calling for a “temporary pass” until they can take an official test.

However, other road users said the petition was one of the “worst” ones yet and an “awful idea”.

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The plans have been attacked by a leading driving school who has warned of the “dangers of a vehicle” for those who may be unfit to drive without qualifications.

Tom Hixon, Head of Instructor Support at Bill Plant Driving School said passing drivers early would mean many would not meet the “DVSA managed examination process”.

He said: “Automatically passing learner drivers is categorically not the way forward.

We have an extremely high standard of driving and road safety in the UK, which starts with the skills required to pass a practical test.

“Frustrations are high, but we simply don’t agree with passing learner drivers outside of the current DVSA managed examination process.

“A car can offer the driver freedom and independence, but we must not forget the dangers of a vehicle, especially for those unfit or without the necessary formal qualifications.”

Driving tests were immediately suspended in March 2020 when the pandemic broke out with only emergency service and key workers allowed to take one.

A few tests were carried out over the summer when restrictions eased but this was still dramatically lower than previous years.

Data from the DVSA has revealed just 188,520 practical tests were conducted in Great Britain between July and September 2020.

This was a decrease of 53.8 percent compared to the year before where over 400,000 tests usually take place.

DVSA data also revealed a decline in the number of practical motorcycle tests compared to the same period in 2019.

The number of tests was down 22.3 percent and 31.7 percent for modules one and two as a result of the pandemic.

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