A backlog of driving theory tests in Scotland means that individuals will wait an average of 4 months to sit their test. This is four times longer than those in England who face an average wait of just over a month.
At the Galashiels test centre, only two out of four desks can be used for theory tests due to the 2 metre social distancing rules in Scotland.
The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) have said that most theory test sites in Scotland can accommodate 50% fewer people.
This is not the case south of the border since only 1 metre distancing is required, meaning more people can sit their test at the same time.
Speaking to the BBC, James Turnbull of Bill Plant Driving School said that test centres in Kelso and Hawick are only open one day a week. This has resulted in individuals trying to book tests at centres miles away if there is any availability.
The DVSA does not have a theory test waiting list which means individuals have to check the website several times a day to search for any available slots. This can be inefficient and a time waster for all who are trying to book a test.
Once individuals have passed their theory test, they will wait an average of 14 weeks to be able to sit their practical test. This is twice as long as the pre-pandemic wait, but is broadly similar to the waiting time in England.
Practical driving tests restarted on May 6th, but the number of learners taking this test in 2020 compared to 2019 has dropped by 72.7%. If individuals are unable to complete their theory tests, the number able to take their practical test will remain low.
John Lamont MP said:
“Safety and reducing the spread of Covid-19 is the priority at the moment. But it is vital that the backlog of theory tests is reduced since it is impacting the independence of young people.
“For young people living in rural areas here in the Borders, the opportunity to learn to drive is very important.
“In some cases, not being able to predict when theory and practical tests can be sat is impacting job prospects, since some workplaces cannot be reached by public transport.
“It is crucial that the DVSA and Scottish Government work together on this to address the backlog and increase testing capacity. The booking system also needs to be looked at since those unable to check throughout the day for future test slots are disadvantaged.”