Covid has brought about a backlog of learner drivers wanting to take their test, leading to more than a third paying to fast-track their practical tests
Some learners have paid up to £122 for their driving test, a 97 per cent premium compared to the standard £62 test booked via the DVSA
Young drivers have so far spent 47 hours learning to drive at an average cost of £365
New research from Direct Line Motor Insurance1 reveals that learner drivers have spent an estimated £12 million to fast-track their practical tests in the wake of Covid. Due to the backlog caused by the pandemic, millions of young drivers are having to wait months for a date, with many willing to pay additional premiums of up to £60 to bring forward their test.
Further research2 conducted by Direct Line revealed that there could be a backlog of 2.8 million young motorists looking to take their test this year - an increase of around 75 per cent compared to a normal year, with vast numbers of young people unable to take a test during lockdown. This would mean an average of nearly 8,000 tests every day across the UK's 380-plus test centres, and has resulted in a long waiting list for driving tests, exacerbated by driving instructors booking up slots and charging a premium for students to reserve them.
Some driving instructors have been charging up to £122 per test, a 97 per cent premium for learners to book their tests through them. This is an additional charge of around £60 on top of the already expensive £62 test. With test availability scarce, more than 200,000 learners (34 per cent of those who are learning or have passed in the past year) have opted to fast-track their practical tests and pay the premium.
Furthermore, with the cost of a driving test expected to rise next year by more than 20 per cent from £62 to £75, the first time since 2009, millions of young drivers have been willing to fork out more now in order to get their licence this year.
Conditions have been difficult for young learner drivers since the start of the pandemic, with 45 per cent (260,000 people) saying that they've experienced issues when learning to drive due to the stop-start nature brought about by Covid-19. Other common issues have been a lack of available driving test slots (43 per cent), the increasing cost of learning to drive (26 per cent), and the lack of available driving instructors (21 per cent).
Table one: Issues experienced when learning to drive
Source: Direct Line Motor Insurance, 2021
On average, a current learner has spent 47 hours learning how to drive, split between 26 hours of lessons and 21 hours of free practice. In total this has cost them £365 on average, but nearly a third (32 per cent) have spent more than £500 on learning to drive so far.
Lorraine Price, head of motor insurance at Direct Line, commented: "As we expected to see, due to the number of people unable to take tests last year, the waitlist for learner drivers has continued to increase. It's therefore not surprising to see that many want to skip the queue to take their test as soon as possible. The backlog of tests has led to many having to make the choice between paying up to learn to drive or some taking the difficult decision to put learning on hold for now.
"It is reassuring however, to see that the demand for learning to drive still stands despite the frustration of delayed tests and it's encouraging to know learners will eventually take to the roads safely and confidently after an extended period of learning."
Notes to Editors
1 Survey conducted amongst a panel of 544 UK adults aged 18-24 who are either currently learning to drive or who passed their test in the past year in October 2021
2 Direct Line Motor Insurance analysis of DVSA0201 Practical car pass rates by gender, month and DTC 21st June 2021
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