Driving tests in England resume today – here’s what’s changed

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Driving test centres in England can finally resume examinations from today (22 July) – as hundreds of budding drivers across the country queue up to try and finally earn their licenses.

Whilst lessons returned earlier this month, practical driving exams have remained banned since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak in March – meaning that no tests have taken place in England for over four months.

Given how tests involve the close proximity of drivers and passengers in a confined space, it is perhaps unsurprising that driving tests have taken so long to return.

However, the process won’t be quite the same as before.

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) is making a number of changes to keep learners and testers safe during exams.

Here’s what you need to know.

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Face coverings

From 22 July, both learners and examiners will need to wear face coverings when they are inside the vehicle during driving tests.

According to new DVSA guidelines, the learner is responsible for bringing and wearing their own mask, unless they have a good reason not to.

Reasonable excuses include:

  • a physical/mental illness or impairment, or a disability that means you cannot wear a face covering
  • if wearing a face covering would cause you severe distress
  • removing the mask during your test to avoid harm or injury or the risk of harm or injury to yourself or others

Seat coverings and social distancing

Testers may also choose to wear gloves and use disposable seat covers during the journey.

Driving instructors will not be permitted to ride along in the backseat like they were pre-pandemic.

Test centres will now also stagger arrivals, with social distancing measures in place in the vicinity.

The amount of time spent inside the vehicle will also be limited. In fact, examiners will now ask learners to exit the car before informing them of their test results.

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How do I book my new test?

If you had not booked a test before lockdown, you cannot do so right now.

The DVSA is currently prioritising a queue of learners who had their scheduled tests cancelled due to lockdown.

Anyone who has previously booked a test should be sent an email by the DVSA confirming their new exam date.

It may take “several weeks” to arrive, due to the backlog.

You can sign up for alerts to inform you when driving test centres take bookings again.

Where can I take a driving test?

Driving tests can now take place anywhere in England.

However, they remain suspended for any areas in a local lockdown – such as Leicester.

Driving tests will restart in Wales on Monday 17 August. They remain suspended in Scotland, but motorcycle and tractor tests will begin again on 3 August.

Anyone who has coronavirus symptoms – or lives with someone showing symptoms – cannot take a test.

You may be able to apply for an emergency test if you urgently need a license for critical work. This includes:

  • health and social care
  • education and childcare
  • key public services
  • local and national government
  • food and other necessary goods
  • public safety and national security
  • transport
  • utilities, communication and financial services

Learn more by visiting the Government website.

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