What Will the Driving Test Backlog Be Like in 2024?

What Will the Driving Test Backlog Be Like in 2024?

With 2024 nearly upon us, it’s time to look back over the last few years and see how the driving test backlog has changed.

2020 brought us the covid pandemic and with it, cancelled tests. The pandemic, with its series of lockdowns, social distancing measures, and safety protocols, led to the closure of test centers and the suspension of driving tests throughout various periods in 2020 and 2021. As a result, a massive backlog of canceled and postponed tests accumulated, creating a bottleneck in the driving test system.

When driving tests resumed, the demand surged significantly. The backlog of learners waiting to take their tests combined with new applicants eager to obtain their licenses created an overwhelming volume that the system struggled to accommodate. Limited testing capacities, coupled with the increased demand, led to a shortage of available test slots.

Over 1.8m tests were carried out in 2022 (a rise of 6%) compared to 2021. In the first half of 2023, the demand was still up 7% compared to pre pandemic levels.

According to the DVSA, one million tests were cancelled due to the pandemic. And with the backlog before covid already quite high, the cancelled tests created a knock-on effect that has lasted years. But now, as we get into 2024 (and nearly four years since the start of the pandemic), we look at what has been done since 2020 to help the backlog of tests.

Efforts were underway to address the backlog, including initiatives to expand testing capacities, recruit and train more examiners, and streamline the booking process. However, the sheer scale of the backlog meant that these measures took time to yield significant improvements. Consequently, many aspiring drivers continued to face prolonged waiting periods, causing frustration and inconvenience.

The DVSA has stated that the main three reasons that are keeping driving tests long are:

  • Stronger than expected economy has led to more demand for driving lessons.
  • Continuing industrial action
  • low customer confidence in driving test availability, resulting in a change in customers’ booking behaviour.

They have also said that:

“We are currently expecting waiting times to remain long throughout this year and into 2024.”

The DVSA have struggled with all these issues which has meant that the backlog is still incredibly bad. The DVSA have also admitted that 2024 is likely to still retain a large backlog which means potentially many months of waiting for users looking for driving tests in 2024.

And sadly, the lack of driving tests isn’t the only problem facing learner drivers today. The DVSA also mentioned that:

  • only 28% of you currently have any availability to take on new pupils, compared to 32% in October 22 (down 4%).
  • 63% of you currently have a waiting list, with just over a quarter of you stating that you have a waiting list of more than 10 learners.

This indicates further problems for learners wanting to drive. Not only do they face months waiting to pass a driving test, but they may also now struggle to find someone to teach them.

The Light at the End of the Tunnel

There has been some good news recently about the backlog. One of the three key issues that the DVSA mentioned were causing problems in driving test availability has been potentially rectified. Since December 2022, there have been 48 days of industrial action which has led to the cancellation of 22,000 tests.

However, after many months of negotiations, it appears that the industrial action is finally at an end. This means that one of the key issues in 2023 will likely not be a factor going into 2024.

Stopping Bots Exploiting Driving Tests

We were pleased to see that the DVSA have started to make changes to stop the exploitation of learner drivers. We were alarmed to see that some people and organisations were exploiting the ADI booking portal to book and hold driving tests. They were then charging up to £200 to move the driving test to a user that had paid this huge amount of money. We completely disagree with how this practice was being carried out and glad to see the DVSA taking robust action to stop this time of exploitative behavior.

Compared to organisations like ours that find and notify users of driving test cancellations, these people took tests as soon as they were launched and charged several times the amount that we and our competitors charge. Companies like ours only hold a test for a maximum of 15 minutes before releasing it back to the public pool and we often help the DVSA in filling test appointments that otherwise could have gone to waste. Since 2017 we have been finding earlier driving tests for our users and we do not hoard or book tests as soon as they are released. We only find tests that our users could have found themselves but instead wish to save time by getting us to do it instead.

With that said, we do appreciate the frustration that learner drivers have been facing in securing tests and we support the measures that the DVSA have taken this year to improve the situation in 2024 such as recruiting new driving examiners.

How to Find a Driving Test cancellation in


The best way to find a driving test cancellation is to use a driving test checker. Services such as ours will find test cancellations and notify you of any earlier test that comes up. This will help save you time and money in extra driving lessons as well as potentially save you months of waiting.

To find out more about how our company driving test cancellations can help, just check out our link or contact us to see what we can do for you to beat the 2024 backlog.