Call for key worker driving lessons and testing to restart
A new poll shows public support for key worker driver training
The AA Driving School is calling for driving lessons and tests to restart for all key workers in England.
Last week, the DVSA announced a “limited theory and practical test service” for key workers from specific employers3.
A snap poll1 by the AA has found that more than half of drivers (52%) disagree with the government’s current position. During the first lockdown, driving lessons and tests were permitted for all key workers in England.
The general public remain unable to book driving tests or take lessons .
However, those who work for NHS health and social care, the emergency services and local councils can book tests.
Key workers whose employer has booked them a driving test will be able to have lessons with a qualified instructor.
Learners who do not have a confirmed ‘mobile emergency worker test’ booking cannot take lessons. Many key workers with other employers will be left out entirely.
Robert Cowell, AA Driving School interim managing director said: “The government should be giving all key workers the flexibility to learn to drive as they are already making so many sacrifices to keep the country moving.
“People who can’t drive have faced huge challenges to get to work during the pandemic as capacity on public transport is reduced.
“Driving instructors adapted quickly to ensure the safety of pupils was paramount during the pandemic and key worker lessons remain as safe as they were in the first national lockdown.”
The AA is also campaigning for a more proactive approach for key workers in Scotland. Many are based in rural areas and are totally car-dependent.
No practical changes… so far
Meanwhile, Marmalade insurance has been campaigning for the extension of theory test certificates. Thousands of learners are finding their theory test pass certificates have expired during the lockdowns (around 300 per day). They will now have to resit their driving theory test. The results, extra costs (£23) and increasing waiting times once restrictions are lifted.
The issue was discussed in the House of Commons as an Adjournment debate on the 28th January 2021 . However, the Department for Transport confirmed that the Government has no plans to lay further legislation to extend it, or to refund any expired theory test certificates. They stated:
“Ensuring new drivers have current relevant knowledge and skills is a vital part of the training of new drivers, who are disproportionality represented in casualty statistics. Taking all this into consideration, the decision has been made not to extend theory test certificates and learners will need to pass another theory test if their certificate expires.”
Using FOI (freedom of information) requests, Marmalade says 50,000 learner drivers are already out of pocket due to the lockdowns.
The insurance company is now offering to cover the costs for learner drivers who hold policies with them.
The campaigning and lobbying, including work by NASP and the national driver training associations, remain ongoing.
11,077 AA members were polled on the AA’s Passenger Seat survey platform between 11th and 18th January 2021.