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Relief as driving tests resume after four-month suspension

Tests were cancelled across the UK in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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Learner drivers have expressed their relief after tests resumed in England following a four-month suspension (PA)

Learner drivers have expressed their relief after tests resumed in England following a four-month suspension (PA)

Learner drivers have expressed their relief after tests resumed in England following a four-month suspension (PA)

Learner drivers have expressed their relief after tests resumed in England following a four-month suspension.

Some 210,000 tests were cancelled and tens of thousands more were delayed because of the virus, according to the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) said.

It said all available staff are being deployed to conduct tests in a bid to cope with the huge backlog.

Learners whose tests were cancelled are being invited to re-book first.

Secondary school teacher Kyle Duddridge, from Liverpool, was due to take a test in early June and was among the first in the country to pass following the restart on Wednesday.

The 24-year-old, who learned to drive with BSM, told the PA news agency he felt “relieved”.

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Teacher Kyle Duddridge after successfully completing his driving test in Liverpool (Peter Byrne/PA)

Teacher Kyle Duddridge after successfully completing his driving test in Liverpool (Peter Byrne/PA)

PA

Teacher Kyle Duddridge after successfully completing his driving test in Liverpool (Peter Byrne/PA)

He said: “Where I live is quite far from where I work. I was getting a bus and it was taking well over an hour to get to work.

“I was planning on passing so that I can drive. It takes 20 minutes to get there in the car.

“With everything going on, it was making me a bit unsure whether I was going to pass by September, when I’m back at school. It was a bit daunting not knowing if I would have a test by then.”

A number of safety measures have been put in place to protect learners and examiners from Covid-19, such as mandatory face coverings unless there is a valid reason not to wear one.

Mr Duddridge, who began learning to drive in January, said wearing a face covering was “a bit of a pain but it’s understandable why you’ve got to do it”.

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Jade Paxton, 30, a keyworker from Bedlington, Northumberland, holds up her pass certificate after successfully completing her driving test in Blyth (Owen Humphreys/PA)

Jade Paxton, 30, a keyworker from Bedlington, Northumberland, holds up her pass certificate after successfully completing her driving test in Blyth (Owen Humphreys/PA)

PA

Jade Paxton, 30, a keyworker from Bedlington, Northumberland, holds up her pass certificate after successfully completing her driving test in Blyth (Owen Humphreys/PA)

Mental health nurse Jade Paxton, 30, from Bedlington, Northumberland, passed her test at the first attempt on Wednesday.

After months of learning to drive during lockdown, taking her test in a mask was not unusual, she said.

“We wore masks, we kept our distance outside the car, the examiner wiped down all the surfaces and we put on anti-bacterial gel before I set off, and I kept the window down when I was driving,” she said.

“He had to move right away when I was doing my checks.

“I’m used to it because I have been learning to drive throughout lockdown.”

Driving instructors reported a surge in demand when lessons were able to resume in England on July 4.

AA president Edmund King said passing the test is “a rite of passage for millions and helps to open up mobility and employment prospects”.

He continued: “We are delighted that tests are under way again as between the AA and BSM driving schools we have 10,000 pupils raring to get behind the wheel either again or for the first time.

“Passing the test is even more important at the moment due to restrictions on public transport.”

The DVSA urged candidates to ensure they have “had enough practice” before taking the test to ensure they are “well prepared for driving independently”.

Learners in other parts of the UK will have to wait a while longer before they can attempt to get a driving licence.

Tests will resume in Wales on August 17, while no date has been set in Scotland or Northern Ireland.

PA