Peterhead learners face long wait to sit driving tests
More than 200 driving tests were cancelled in Peterhead last year because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Ahead of tests starting up again, the AA said the disruption may have impacted learner drivers' confidence and compounded a difficult time for many young people.
Figures from the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency show 218 driving tests were cancelled at Peterhead Test Centre because of the pandemic between March and December.
A further 26 tests were cancelled – all of them because the examiner took annual or special leave.
Across Britain, 458,000 tests could not take place because of the pandemic in 2020, though the DVSA said there are currently 420,000 booked for when testing centres reopen.
Lessons recommenced from this week – and the AA is expecting huge demand.
Robert Cowell, interim managing director of AA Driving School, said: "Many pupils will have either had a big break in lessons, which may impact their confidence, or have had to postpone driving lessons for many months.
"For young people, who have already suffered disruption to their education, not being able to learn to drive will compound an already stilted start to adult life."
He added that extending the validity period of theory test certificates – as has been the case for MOTs and driving licences – or offering a free re-sit, could help reduce demand, or at least lessen the financial impact.
Nicholas Lyes, head of roads policy at the RAC Foundation, also urged the DVSA to consider a short extension for those whose theory test has either expired, or is about to, but the UK Government has already said it will not do so.
A DVSA spokesman said: “Ensuring new drivers have current, relevant knowledge and skills to identify developing hazards is a vital part of the training for young and new drivers, who are disproportionality represented in casualty statistics."
While hundreds of tests were cancelled in Peterhead, 332 did take place between April and the end of December.
Of these, 231 were successful, giving drivers at Peterhead Test Centre a pass rate of 70 per cent – above the average across Britain of 50 per cent.