Petition Extend theory expiry dates due to COVID-19 (Coronavirus)
Extend the expiry dates of those who currently hold a valid theory test to after September. This would allow time for those who have rightfully passed this theory to attempt their practical test once the pandemic has eased and society is back to running smoothly.
Those who have passed their theory deserve the right to have a driving test. At current, they are unable to do so as the driving tests have been cancelled with no clear answer on when they will start back up again. This will affect many people who have worked hard to pass their theory and be able to sit a driving test.
This response was given on 4 September 2020
The Government is not extending theory test certificates to ensure new drivers’ knowledge and hazard perception skills is fully up to date at the critical point they begin to drive on their own.
Read the response in full
The requirement to undertake a driving theory test before a practical driving test is set out in the Motor Vehicles (Driving Licence) Regulations 1999. Regulation 47(6) states a theory test certificate is valid for two years.
The theory test has two parts. An assessment of the learner’s knowledge and understanding of the rules of the road and safe driving. The hazard perception test which is an assessment of their ability to identify developing hazards. Candidates must pass both parts at the same time.
The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) administers the theory test. The agency continues to expand the theory test question bank and hazard perception clips in response to topical road safety issues. Over the last two years the test has, for example, been enhanced to include more questions and clips about the safety of pedestrians and cyclists and driving at night or in bad weather.
Under normal circumstances an average of 12 - 14,000 learners a month allow their theory test certificate to expire and are unlikely to continue with driving lessons. Routine practical driving tests were suspended in response to the COVID-19 pandemic with DVSA maintaining a service for those critical workers who were required to drive for work.
DVSA estimates around 20,000 active learners have expired theory test certificates or certificates that will expire by the end of September 2020. The Government fully appreciates some of these learners would have been able to take the practical if routine testing had not been suspended and that they will be disappointed to have to retake their theory test again.
However, the Government has had to consider the wider road safety impact. Learner drivers were prohibited from practicing during COVID-19. This lack of practice is likely to mean that their knowledge and skills base diminished, and research would suggest that this would be particularly detrimental to hazard perception skills.
DVSA contacted those learners whose practical test had been suspended due to the pandemic ahead of the driver testing service resuming in July. Those learners whose theory test certificate had by this time expired were automatically refunded the money for their practical driving test. The remaining learners, including those whose theory test certificate was due to expire in the next few months, were given priority to reschedule their practical test ahead of the booking system reopening to the public.
The on-line practical driving test booking service has recently reopened to all learners who are ready to take a driving test. DVSA is currently experiencing unprecedented demand for tests following the pandemic and are in the process of taking active steps to increase test capacity.
Department for Transport
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