There appears to be a mountain to climb if we want shorter test waiting times.

New research shows demand for practical driving test slots across the UK far exceeds the DVSA’s ability for testing.

According to the research, this is happening despite the DVSA’s measures to rectify excessive waiting times.

The conclusion is that demand for driving tests will exceed capacity by 177%.


Data was gathered through Freedom of Information (FOI) requests and existing Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures.

Marmalade insurance found that monthly demand for tests in 2024 exceeds the monthly capacity for testing by almost a third (30%).

It also found that on average, the UK can conduct 144,429 tests per month.

Facts and figures

The most recent data was taken between September 2022 and September 2023.

Testing capacity rises to 169,429 between January and March 2024, due to a release of 150,000 test slots back in October 2023.

However, new FOI data reveals an average monthly gross demand of 195,982 learners looking for a test slot, based on demand during 2023.

A further FOI to the DVSA confirmed 537,722 tests already booked for 2024, as of January this year.

Marmalade estimates more than five million learners will compete for test slots over the next year. This works out at 177% more than what can be accommodated.

Climbing figures

The end of January 2024 kicked off a driving test rollover, where capacity for testing started to struggle against gross demand.

From here, the backlog compounds every month as demand quickly escapes the capacity to tackle the waiting times.

Marmalade predicts the backlog will remain indefinitely with no signs of stopping. It will continue to grow until capacity increases within the testing system.

From April, the additional test slots announced by the DVSA will have been filled. The rollover of tests from the first few months of the year will sit at 79,659, on top of a predicted demand of 195,982 tests.

This trend continues throughout the year. Given capacity for testing is lower than gross demand, when the rollover figures combine a compound effect begins and we see based on our forecast that this backlog is unlikely to end unless testing capacity can start to meet gross demand.

Marmalade estimates there to be 5,004,282 learners competing for a test in 2024. DVSA are only able to accommodate 1,808,148 of them. This would mean demand exceeding capacity by 177%.

Further details of the backlog prediction for the rest of 2024 onwards can be found here.


Commenting on the research, Chris Lawson, Head of Insurer Relations for car insurance at Marmalade, says there is a “fundamental disparity”.

“Until testing capacity can increase, we don’t believe that the backlog will ever end, it will only get worse”.

This level of demand brings desperation and that can lead to  “a risk of exploitation”.

“Third parties take advantage of that desperation, which we’ve seen in recent months.”

Marmalade’s recent survey of learner drivers found that 77% cite the extra cost of more lessons as the biggest frustration in the delay for tests. This is followed by delays to independence and freedom (68%).

In an email from the DVSA, chief executive of the agency, Loveday Ryder said:

“We are taking all the measures we can to reduce driving test waiting times. The work we’ve been doing to date, along with our examiner recruitment, is already creating over 40,000 extra tests every month. We strongly urge learners only to book their driving test when they are ready to pass.”