Data shows learners lost £1,139,489 during lockdown!

Many learner drivers may see their Theory Test certificate expire before they can take their practical test due to COVID-19. We’re petitioning to help!


By Marmalade Author

Updated on Jan 8th, 2021

Learner drivers up and down the country are still experiencing the impact of COVID-19 on their driving journey and we are now seeing a huge backlog in the access to driving tuition. In 2020, driving lessons stopped, private practice took a pause for many and tests, both practical and theory, were postponed for weeks. 

But what about those learner drivers who had a driving test booked in these periods with a theory test certificate close to its expiry date? The pause in tests would have left those out of pocket, with every certification expiry essentially costing £23.

To gauge the impact on learners we have issued multiple Freedom of Information (FOI) requests throughout the last year to the Driving and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) to find out just how many learners were at a loss due to the lockdown and now we have a comprehensive look at the year. 

This data focuses specifically on how the first UK lockdown where lessons were paused (23 March - 22 July) and the second national lockdown (05 November - 03 December) impacted learners.

*Theory Test Pass Date Car ADI Bike LGV PCV
03/2018 3204 134 272 363 79
04/2018 11451 472 1049 1383 371
05/2018 12874 527 1542 1597 420
06/2018 10769 470 1197 1099 242
07/2018 4828 299 123 177 42
11/2018 6059 474 60 238 57
12/2018 358 27 4 11 2
Total 49543 2403 4247 4868 1213

Looking at the data we can see that 49,543 people who were looking to pass in a car have now lost their certificates. At £23 per theory test, that’s a loss of £1,139,489 for UK learner drivers with May recording the biggest loss of £296,102 and the November/December lockdown costing learners £147,591.

We have also calculated the cost to learners if all those which had a theory test expire in the lockdown paid to take it again, which would equate to £46 per learner as a total cost. The below table is based just on car theory tests and also takes into account a separate figure where it assumes only half would pay to take the test again, as it’s unlikely that all would retake following the expiration.

*Theory Test Pass Date Number of car tests expired in 2020 Financial loss from initial expiration Cost if all learners paid to retake (incld initial expiration cost) Cost if 50% of learners paid to retake (incld initial expiration cost)
03/2018 3204 £73,692.00 £147,384.00 £110,538.00
04/2018 11451 £263,373.00 £526,746.00 £395,059.50
05/2018 12874 £296,102.00 £592,204.00 £444,153.00
06/2018 10769 £247,687.00 £495,374.00 £371,530.50
07/2018 4828 £111,044.00 £222,088.00 £166,566.00
11/2018 6059 £139,357.00 £278,714.00 £209,035.50
12/2018 358 £8,234.00 £16,468.00 £12,351.00
Total 49543 £1,139,489.00 £2,278,978.00 £1,709,233.50

Currently, there are no plans in place to help these learners. If the theory test certificate expires during this time, they will need to take it and pass it again before they can take their practical driving test.

On average there are over 400,000 driving tests taken every 3 months in the UK, a number of which are learner drivers with theory tests close to expiring. We don’t think it’s fair that many learner drivers will have to re-sit the theory test and pay even more money through no fault of their own.

That’s why we’re petitioning for a three month extension once practical driving tests resume for those certificates that have expired. This gives learners the time to take their practical driving test with a valid theory test certificate and also ensures that test centres aren’t overwhelmed once they reopen.

The reason for the two year time limit on the theory test is to ensure the safety of all drivers, which is paramount. However, we believe a short three month extension to the theory test certificate is enough time to help drivers whose test has been suspended, but not too much time so that the things they’ve learned in their theory test are forgotten.

Whether you’re a learner driver who has had a driving test cancelled during the period, a parent of a learner who is dealing with this stress or someone who can sympathise with learner drivers going through this – we ask you to sign the petition and get behind this movement to extend the time on the theory test certificates for those learner drivers whose tests have been postponed due to COVID-19.

You can find more information and sign the petition here.

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