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Driving instructors and learners eager to get back behind the wheel

Driving instructors and learners eager to get back behind the wheel

With lessons and theory tests now permitted once again in England, driving instructors and learners have been keen to get back on the road.

RED Driving School reports that it is seeing double the normal amount of traffic to its website, so will see most of its instructors return to work.

Speaking to the PA news agency, chief executive Ian McIntosh said:  “Pre-Covid, 4,000 driving tests were held per day, so it is easy to imagine the huge backlog which has now built up.

“The Government is telling people to avoid public transport – in fact, the use of a private car is now being encouraged, so the news that driving schools can reopen will be welcomed by thousands of learner drivers up and down the country.”

Instructors have been given instructions to limit the risk of virus transmission, such as cleaning the steering wheel and other touchpoints prior to each lesson.

Meanwhile, AA Driving School says bookings are up five times compared with last week, with managing director Sarah Rees saying: “It’s been a challenging time for everyone. The DVSA’s (Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency) decision to bring back lessons and tests will help to give learners something to look forward to in this uncertain time.

“Driving is a skill that brings freedom to so many people and will be especially important whilst capacity on public transport is reduced.”

However, despite lessons ramping up again, practical tests cannot be taken until July 22.

Insurer Marmalade warns that about 35,000 theory tests could expire before that date because learners were not given an extension on them. This means those drivers will have to pay £23 to retake and pass the theory test before taking their practical.

The RAC Foundation says more younger drivers have been taking tests recently following years of decline, and it’s likely this will increase further with people encouraged to not use public transport.

Director Steve Gooding noted: “Data suggests that over the past three years the downward trend was reversing and now about 45% of men and women aged 17-24 have a full licence.

"With driving lessons restarting it will be interesting to see whether yet more young people decide to learn, given the impact social distancing has had on public transport capacity and the economic implications of companies shedding thousands of staff.

“Many more of us might be willing to face a long car-commute in order to get a job.”

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