How has lockdown affected learner drivers?

We're taking a look at how learner drivers have been affected by lockdowns resulted from COVID-19!

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By Megan

Updated on Apr 26th, 2021

In the whirlwind year of 2020 learner drivers up and down the country saw their driving journey put on hold due to the pandemic. 

Now we can see the light at the end of the tunnel, but for many, lockdown has had lasting effects on us, including our mental health and wellbeing. We’re recently ran a survey and asked 1675 learner drivers all about how lockdown has affected them and impacted on their driving journey. The cancellations and delays have not only affected test dates, they have prevented nearly a third of young drivers from finding employment, cost them over £1m in expired theory test certificates, and increased their anxiety.

48% of learner drivers have had a driving test cancelled due to COVID

Along with the many things that COVID had an effect on, driving tests were also hit and thousands of young drivers saw their tests cancelled, postponed, and rescheduled throughout the year. Not only was it frustrating but it was also really confusing – as due to the rules constantly changing around lockdown in different areas of the UK, so did test dates – many saw them postponed not just once but multiple times.

Unfortunately, this has had a knock-on effect on young drivers’ confidence. We’ve created helpful tips and articles about preparing for a driving test in lockdown when you couldn’t get out on the roads, and when you could, encouraged private practice with parents to help rebuild some of the confidence and skill lost in the time away from behind the wheel. It’s a frustrating time but as we’re approaching the end of lockdown, driving tests have resumed – here’s what you can expect from a driving test post lockdown.

9 out of 10 young drivers think they would have passed if not for lockdown

On average it takes around 40-50 hours of driving practice with an instructor and 20 hours of private practice to pass your driving test, this usually takes learners around 3-6 months from first getting in the car to passing. Unfortunately as we know, the pandemic has caused big delays for learners. 38% of learners who had their test booked saw their test date more 5 or more months after the original booking, 34% had to wait 3-4 months and extraordinarily 4% of learners will have waited over a year to take their test! 

Of course, this is incredibly frustrating, even more so that once tests resume there will likely be a significant backlog of learners wanting to take their test. Thankfully driving tests centres are operating extended opening hours in hopes of giving as many learners the chance to take their test as quickly as possible. You can see our top tips for passing your practical driving test to help you, or if you’re preparing for your theory test – young driver Izzy has been reviewing some of the best theory test practice apps on the market to help you.

How have these delays affected learners?

Having a break from your driving lessons is ultimately going to have a knock on effect on your confidence behind the wheel.

  • 42% of learners have struggled with their driving skills due to the gaps in between lessons caused my lockdown 
  • Nearly a third (31%) have lost out on job opportunities
  • 30% are more anxious about learning to drive 
  • 5% have given up learning to drive altogether 

To help with some of these nerves that are a direct result of lockdown, we’ve created a video series called Driving Instructor Masterclass, which covers most aspects of driving and manoeuvres that are likely to be one of the causes of the anxiety when it comes to getting back behind the wheel.  

Whilst many learners have struggled, 11% have found that they’ve had more time to practise their driving during lockdown using learner insurance. Whilst you may be waiting for your driving lessons to resume, or if you find the wait between lessons longer than usual, watching the masterclass series and picking up learner insurance to practice these things will allow you to build your confidence behind the wheel and hopefully see you passing quicker because, let’s be honest – you’ve been waiting long enough!

Learners have lost over £1,000,000 due to theory test certificates expiring

Not only has the stress of lockdown impacted learners' mental health and driving confidence, their wallet has also taken a hit. Between the first and second lockdown (23rd March-22nd July | 5th Nov-3rd Dec 2020) almost 50,000 learner drivers saw their theory test certificate expire and since tests weren’t running it means they’ll have to retake their theory test again. This, of course, is incredibly frustrating for learner drivers who couldn’t take their driving test due to the pandemic but are still being forced to pay out to take their theory test again. We’ve also been campaigning to help these young drivers and asking the government to consider extensions on Theory Test Certificates that have expired because of lockdown, although as of yet the stance remains that if your theory test expired during lockdown, you will need to resit it before being able to complete your practical test. 

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By Megan

Hi, I'm Megan - I have recently graduated from university and I'm a marketing executive at Marmalade! I am a new driver myself and would love to share my tips, tricks and experiences with you :)

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