Hundreds of driving tests cancelled at Grangemouth centre during lockdown
Hundreds of driving tests were cancelled in Grangemouth last year because of the coronavirus pandemic, figures reveal.
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 738 driving tests were cancelled at Grangemouth Test Centre because of the pandemic between March and December.
A further 32 tests were cancelled for other reasons – including 27 because the examiner took annual or special leave.
Acts of nature – adverse weather conditions and bad light – also forced the cancellation of five tests.
While hundreds of tests were cancelled in Grangemouth, 569 did take place between April and the end of December.
Of these, 333 were successful, giving drivers at Grangemouth Test Centre a pass rate of 59% – above the average across Britain of 50%.
Lessons are set to recommence from Monday, with tests to follow from May 6 – 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, 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, said: “Learner drivers will breathe a sigh of relief that driving lessons and tests are restarting, however the backlog for those waiting for both practical and theory tests is likely to be huge."
He also urged the DVSA to consider a short extension for those whose theory test has either expired, or is about to.
DVLA figures from March show just 2.97 million people in Britain aged 16-25 hold a full licence – the smallest number since records began in November 2012.