Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 21 August 2014

Trainee drivers still in waiting list L for tests

The average waiting list for a driving test is 37 days

Waiting times for getting a driving test have fallen from a record high, but some learner drivers are still facing an average wait of two months.

Figures for the period April to November show the average waiting time to get a practical driving test across Northern Ireland's 17 test centres was 37 days - it's meant to be 23 days.

The figures show one person waited 97 days to get a test - in 2001-2002 the maximum wait was 56 days.

In 2001-2002 the average waiting time for a test was 25 days. Following a strike by examiners in 2004, this rose to 51 days the following year.

The figures, released under the Freedom of Information Act, show waiting times have improved at every test centre except Larne and Armagh.

The Newbuildings test centre in Londonderry, which only carries out PSV and LGV tests, had the shortest wait - a mere five days.

The nearby Waterside test centre had the longest average wait, a lengthy 51 days.

Cookstown's test centre shows the biggest improvement, cutting average delays from 61 days to 31 days.

Learner drivers choosing the Ballymena test centre had a 24 day delay before securing a test and the Craigavon centre had a 26 day wait.

East Belfast's Dill Road test centre has reduced waiting times from 70 days to 49 days and the city's Balmoral test centre had an average wait of 32 days, down from a 56 day wait last year.

DVTA said additional recruitment of examiners, redeployment, overtime and assistance from the British Driving Standards Agency had contributed to reducing waiting times.

A spokeswoman said: "Experience has proven this wait of 23 days is desirable to enable applicants to make necessary arrangements and final preparations for test.

"Many applicants do however choose to opt for a test date much later than 23 days to meet their own personal circumstances.

"Information is published on the agency's website on current waiting times on a weekly basis. This provides information to assist instructors to make an informed judgement on the appropriate point to advise a candidate to apply for test."

Between April and November, the Balmoral test centre handled 4,458 tests and had an average waiting time of 32 days while the Waterside centre only had 2,844 tests but experienced an average waiting time of 51 days.

DVTA said supply and demand, the availability of driving instructors and availability of trained staff in each geographical location affected waiting times.

The figures show 40,243 people sat driving tests between April and November, with Balmoral the most popular centre, handling 4,458 tests.

Last year driving instructors told the Belfast Telegraph that learner drivers were paying more than £250 for unnecessary lessons because of delays in getting tests.

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