Driving tests are due to resume in Scotland later this month after a five-month break.
Lessons resumed in late August and the DVSA confirmed last month that practical car tests will restart on Monday September 14, however, it did not release slots for learners to book a new test.
Now, it has confirmed that booking for new practical tests in Scotland will reopen on Monday, September 7 via its online service.
Driving lessons and tests were put on hold for all but key workers in late March as the country entered lockdown. As a result, an estimated 400,000 driving tests were cancelled and millions of learners had to give up lessons.
Learner drivers in England and Wales have been able to sit their driving test since July 22 and August 17 respectively but the move to restart lessons and tests has been slower as Scotland followed its own timetable out of lockdown.
Driving instructors were allowed to resume professional lessons in Scotland on August 24 and shortly after the DVSA confirmed that practical car tests would restart on September 14.
From September 7 learners in Scotland will be able to book a new driving test appointment, with priority given to candidates who had a previous date cancelled. Candidates with a previous test date will be contacted by the DVSA and asked to book a new appointment and have been advised to ignore any previous dates given to them by the DVSA.
However, learners trying to book a new slot should expect lengthy delays when using the DVSA booking service. Since reopening to the general public on August 21, the site has been beset by problems and been shut down twice after being overwhelmed by demand.
Due to coronavirus restrictions, the number of available test slots has been greatly reduced and the DVSA has only been releasing appointments up to six weeks in advance. This has left as many as 300,000 candidates in England and Wales competing for a few thousand appointments.
From September 14, the DVSA will release an additional 375,000 appointment slots for between October and January 2021 in order to try to address the current issues. It says the move should allow “almost everybody” to book a test.
As lessons and tests resume, learner drivers face certain new measures to help protect them, their instructors and examiners from the spread of coronavirus.
Test centres will be issuing examiners with personal protective equipment (PPE) including gloves and face masks and they will be given training on cleaning equipment such as sat navs and tablets. You should also expect social distance measures to be in place at test centres and for testing capacity to be reduced.
Driving schools also say that instructors will be provided with PPE and required to thoroughly clean all touch points on their car between lessons.
Ian McIntosh from Red Driving School explains: “We will of course commence teaching using only those RED instructors who choose to resume and will make allowances for those who feel the need to self-isolate. This means that all instructors and customers can decide for themselves whether or not to participate in driving lessons.
“In terms of the precautions we’ll be taking, all RED instructors will be required to follow industry best practice on PPE requirements and will be instructed to prepare the car and wipe down the steering wheel and other controls before every lesson.
“Instructors will also be trained in how to reduce viral contamination and ensure best practice for operating a safe driving lesson, and all of our customers will be asked to declare that they are symptom free before they step inside the car.”
A version of this article first appeared on The Scotsman