Learner drivers in Leicestershire have been left waiting in a backlog of 124,000 people across the UK to book themselves in for a driving test.
Driving tests across the country were cancelled when the Covid-19 pandemic hit, many people in Leicester and all over the United Kingdom had their driving tests cancelled.
The Driving and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) reopened the system for the public to book their practical tests in July, but a number of people have since complained about the system.
Tanyel Gumushan, 24, lives in Leicester city centre and had her test booked for March. Her test was cancelled, but she has said that there has been no prioritisation for people who are in the same situation as her.
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Speaking to LeicestershireLive, she said: "I am currently, for the third week in a row, in a queue of 124,000 people across the UK trying to book a driving test through DVSA website.
"I was supposed to have a driving test in March that did not go ahead due to lockdown. Living in Leicester, I was unable to resume my lessons for an extra two months to the rest of the country - that is six months without lessons.
"DVSA are using a national website to allow bookings, once a week. There are 19,000 tests available in six-week blocks.
"The booking opens at 8am and even though tests are available at most centres they close the booking at 2pm. Yet, they keep tweeting that we should be able to take the test anywhere if we are truly test-ready. Yes, we would - but we simply cannot get on to the system to book."
Tanyel says that unless she can get a test booked when the system reopens next week, her theory test certificate will run out by the time she can book a test.
She says it's a situation that has left her feeling both "disheartened" and "anxious".
"Learning to drive and passing the test is already quite stressful for a lot of people, I included, so to have these extra barriers put in place adds to the pressure with the time restrictions," She added.
"The cost is constantly adding up, with maintaining lessons and potentially having to redo the theory test.
"I wanted to drive to have the freedom to travel for work and potentially buy a house and relocate out of living in the city centre, but not having a licence is holding that up."
Tanyel isn't the only one who has taken issue with the booking system.
Another person, who wished not to be named, also booked their test for March and had it cancelled.
She said: "I’ve had a really rubbish experience. Each time I’ve got in the queue at 8am and failed to get a test. It’s frustrating as I need to book my test for my work.
"I’ve tried four times. You can only book your test on a Monday. I have been waiting from 8am till 2pm - 2pm is when they close.
"I've even had other people on the link to help me book in.
"It is shocking and it’s frustrating when you're in a queue and it hardly goes down."
Another person told LeicestershireLive: "I have been on the site four times to rebook and every time there has been no available slots.
"It's really frustrating because ideally there should have been some sort of priority of some sorts so that those who have been waiting longer get a slot but it almost seems like it's a free-for-all.
"I had only one lesson booked before my test as I felt ready and now I don't know how many lessons I will need so it's quite frustrating as I will most definitely have to book quite a few and as you may know they aren't the cheapest thing."
The DVSA outlined in their guidance that hose who had a test cancelled due to the pandemic would be contacted about rearranging their test.
All three people who LeicestershireLive spoke to said that they have had to join the national queue, just like everyone else.
What the DVSA said
A spokesman for the DVSA said: "While we have now re-started practical driving tests in a Covid-secure way, following unprecedented demand for tests, from Monday 14 September, a further 375,000 testing slots will be available to book.
“We will also be safely increasing the number of tests each driving examiner conducts per day. This will allow candidates to book new or reschedule existing tests up until 21 January, 2021.
“We thank everyone for their patience and are sorry for any inconvenience caused to those who haven’t been able to book a test so far.”
The DVSA maintain that all 210,000 candidates who had their test cancelled were contacted about re-booking their tests.
link source - Leicester Mercury http://i2-prod.leicestermercury.co.uk/incoming/article4497129.ece/ALTERNATES/s270b/0_learner-driver-2.jpg