WITH LOCKDOWN 3 now in full swing in the UK, learner drivers are wondering if they can still get driving lessons or take their driving test.
Last week (Jan 4), Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that nationwide restrictions on travel would once again be enforced as UK coronavirus deaths rose above 1,000 per day for the first time since April. “Stay at home” orders are now once again in effect, meaning that people are only allowed to leave their homes for essential reasons.
Can I take my practical driving test during lockdown?
Driving tests have been suspended in all UK nations, with some students now facing postponement for the fifth time in the space of a year. If you have a driving test booked between now and February 15, you will be contacted by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) to tell you that it will be rescheduled to a different time and date.
If your driving instructor booked the test for you, they will receive an email notification that your test is being rescheduled, and then an email at a later date with details of your new test. If the rescheduled test date doesn’t work for you, you’ll be able to choose a different one at the gov.uk website free of charge. You’ll need your licence number to do this.
It is likely that when the practical test booking system is reopened it will be inundated with people scrambling for a slot: some learners found themselves in an eight-hour online queue when the DVSA’s booking portal reopened in August. It’s also worth noting that the booking service will be unlikely to reopen immediately after lockdown ends due to the backlog of postponed tests.
Can I take my driving theory test during lockdown?
Like practical driving tests, theory tests have been suspended due to the coronavirus lockdown. If you have a theory test booked, you will receive a notification saying that your theory test has been suspended; you will be able to rebook it through the government website. Due to the circumstances, this service is free of charge.
If you driving instructor booked your test for you, they will need to log into the system and rebook it for you.
Can I get driving lessons during lockdown?
Driving instructors have been told that they cannot give lessons during the national lockdown in order to reduce the number of people mixing in confined spaces.
Can I go for a drive with someone from my household?
When Boris Johnson addressed the nation last week, he set out the specific reasons people would be allowed to leave their houses during lockdown. These are:
– Buying essential shopping and medical supplies
– Going to work or providing voluntary/ charitable services if unable to do so from home
– Exercising, either alone, with your household or support bubble, or with one other person
– Meeting with your support bubble or childcare bubble where necessary, if you are legally permitted to form one
– To seek medical attention or avoid injury, illness or risk of harm (including domestic abuse)
– Attending education or childcare, for those eligible. Schools are to remain closed until February half term, apart from to children of those deemed to be critical workers.
Update, January 12: Last week, the DVSA told Driving.co.uk that private driving practice was “not advised until the restrictions are lifted”, including on essential journeys. However, last night (Jan 11) it updated its guidance once again: like in Scotland and Wales, it is now okay for a learner to practise driving as long as they are on an essential journey. It is not permissible to go for a drive just for practice, and if you are caught doing so you could be fined.
🚗Private practice for England🚗
Government guidance is very clear – people should stay at home to save lives and protect the NHS unless the trip is essential.
❌A journey solely for driver learning purposes is not considered essential.
— Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency (@DVSAgovuk) January 11, 2021
How can I practise driving during lockdown?
Although you can’t go out for driving lessons and the opportunity to practise with someone from your household is limited to essential journeys, there’s still plenty you can do to stay on the ball over the coming weeks of national lockdown.
“I’d recommend learners continue with their theory practise,” one driving instructor told Driving.co.uk. “And if they’ve already passed their theory test, then brush up on it.
“They could also look at their hazard perception. I’d advise that when being a passenger in the car, they should observe situations on the road and draw upon their theory, thinking about how they’d put it into practise; also observe road signs and road markings.
“They should get to know their car: check tyre pressures, look for visual damage, look at tyre treads and check oil levels.”
The expert noted that exercises such as this would prove advantageous during the “show me, tell me” sections of the practical driving test. A list of “show me, tell me” questions can be found on the government website here.
If you’re struggling to teach yourself your driving theory, The Grand Tour host and professional chef James May might be of assistance: he’s made a driving theory test app, and he told Driving.co.uk which questions he personally finds hardest.