The driving test booking service has closed again after every available slot was taken when it briefly went back online.
The AA is now warning the government must take “urgent action” to avoid the backlog of driving tests becoming insurmountable.
The DVSA took the service offline earlier in August for what it described as ‘essential maintenance’.
The service reopened on Wednesday 26 August – but less than a day later, after around 100,000 learners tried to book tests, it has been closed again because no more tests were available.
Only 35,675 tests were released for the next six weeks.
The online service will now reopen again at 8am on Tuesday 1 September.
The DVSA says the number of tests is limited because priority is being given to those who had a test cancelled due to coronavirus. Key workers are also being prioritised.
What’s more, social distancing means the DVSA can only carry out a limited number of driving tests, far less than normal. The six-week cap also allows the DVSA to react quickly to government coronavirus guidance.
When the service reopens in September, new tests will become available each week, on a rolling six-week period.
There is no waiting list or cancellation list, officials advised. Only tests that can be seen online are able to be booked.
The DVSA adds that its customer service centre does not have access to online appointments – ‘so please do not call them’.
‘Winning the lottery is easier’
AA Driving School MD Sarah Rees says the waiting list to book tests is growing every day and urgent action is now needed.
“The government should now relax the two-year theory test rule and allow more flexibility for learners who cannot book their test.
“Learners have been unfairly hit with a double dose of problems, first with cancellations due to coronavirus and now because of technical glitches.”
Some learners, she added, “may feel it is easier to win the lottery than it is to book a test”.
What to do while you wait
The DVSA says it is vital that those who want to book now are ‘test-ready’, because tests could become available at very short notice.
‘If you’re not ready, do not try to book now.’
The organisation points to a test rate of less than 50 percent, and warns there could be a long waiting time for a retest, as those who fail drop to the back of the queue.
‘Spend time practising on a variety of roads and in different driving conditions with your driving instructor before you book your test.’
And, once it’s booked, be sure to keep on practising, to ensure you are confident you can pass.