BRITS now can’t book their practical driving tests until Wednesday after millions of people forced the website to crash on the first day it reopened.
The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), which is in charge of running the tests, only let some people book slots yesterday so that learners and examiners could comply with social distancing restrictions.
Learners said they spent hours trying to log on but kept being faced with error messages.
Yesterday was the first time that learners could book a driving test after lockdown.
Those who had their driving tests booked and then cancelled were allowed to rebook them from July 25 to help with the backlog.
The theory tests resumed on July 4.
The DVSA told HOAR that after a surge in demand the rest of the tests would be released on Monday.
But this afternoon, it announced that the booking service will now be offline until 8am on Wednesday, August 26 after facing “unprecedented demand”.
The DVSA said “essential maintenance” would be done to help the website to cope with the number of bookings.
The services that will be unavailable are:
- booking driving tests
- changing driving test appointments
- checking driving test appointment details
- cancelling driving tests
DVSA chief executive Gareth Llewellyn said: “Coronavirus has severely impacted our business as usual operations, including by stopping driving tests in March. Since then DVSA have only been dealing with applications for emergency driving tests for critical workers.
“Following unprecedented demand for the driving test booking system with almost 7 million attempts to book a test when it opened, we need to carry out urgent maintenance so people can book tests.
“We have to close the booking service until Wednesday 26 August and are sorry for any inconvenience caused.”
When HOAR tried to log on to the website yesterday, it was show a message which said “504 Gateway Time-out”.
On Saturday afternoon, the website said the service wasn’t currently available.
How driving tests have changed
This is how driving tests have changed since before the pandemic:
1. You will have to wear a face mask
Drivers and examiners will have to wear a face mask when they take their tests.
If you can’t wear one, for example you suffer from asthma, then you should let the test centre know as soon as possible.
Am I eligible for a refund if I can no longer take the test?
You are eligible for a refund if you have a driving test booked.
To cancel your test and get a refund, you will have to email [email protected]
Alternatively, it will be re-booked for a new date, according to gov.uk
Some examiners can choose to wear gloves and use disposable seat covers as well.
You may be asked to remove your face covering briefly so that the examiner can check your ID.
You should also make sure you have one that fits correctly. The examiner will ask you to pull over if you need to adjust it.
If it becomes a safety issue, the examiner will end your test early.
If you don’t say you could not wear a face mask when you booked your test, and arrive without one, your test will be cancelled.
2. You will find out midway through your test if you’ve failed
Normally, drivers have to wait until the end of their test to find out whether or not they had passed.
But now, those who commit a serious offence early on will find out immediately if they have failed.
They will immediately be directed back to the test centre to minimise the amount of time they spend in the vehicle.
Learners should carry on with the test if they make a minor mistake.
3. The car must be cleaned before your test
You must make sure the car has been cleaned before the instructor is allowed in the vehicle with you.
The examiner will also need to use an antiviral wipe to clean the passenger door and anything else they will need to touch inside the car.
4. Waiting rooms will be closed
Drivers should not arrive for their test more than five minutes before your appointment time.
Test centre waiting rooms will be closed so you’ll need to stay outside until your test is due to begin.
You will be able to ask to use the toilets though.
5. Driving instructors can’t sit in the car during your test
To minimise the number of people in the car at the same time, driving instructors are not allowed to sit in the back seat while you take your test.
This is part of the new social distancing measures introduced at driving test centres.
6. You’ll be asked to get out of the car to get your results
To minimise the amount of time that you spend in the car, you and the examiner will need to step out of the vehicle while you get your results.
You will also be asked whether or not you’d like your instructor to join you while you hear the feedback.
7. Don’t come for your test if you’ve got coronavirus symptoms
You must not go for your drivers test if you or a member of your household have coronavirus symptoms.
If you’ve been contacted by NHS Test and Trace, you also shouldn’t go to the test centre.
If you get ill, you can change the time and date of your driving test free of charge, even if you do this at short notice, within three working days of your test.
Driving lessons, much like the tests, are now very different compared to what they were like before lockdown – here’s a guide.
Meanwhile, make sure you wear sunglasses behind the wheel or you could get a £5k fine.
And research found a fifth of drivers struggle to get behind the wheel after lockdown.