Driving lessons and tests restart in England - here’s what to expect in the car and at test centres
From Saturday, July 4 driving lessons can resume in England and learners will once again be able to sit the theory test.
The resumption of lessons and tests comes three months after the Government ordered lessons and testing to be suspended for all but key workers.
The move placed the country’s 40,000 driving instructors and their students in limbo, waiting for permission to resume lessons. On June 25 the Government announced that in England lessons and theory tests would resume from this weekend, with practical tests set to restart on July 22.
As in other walks of life, new measures and precautions are being taken so here is what learners can expect as they get back behind the wheel.
What driving lessons will look like
We spoke to the team from Bill Plant Driving School to find out how driving lessons will be conducted post-lockdown.
Before and after each lesson, all vehicles will be thoroughly cleaned with antibacterial cleaning products. Key areas that will be focused on include (but are not limited to):door handles; seat belt; steering wheel; gear stick; handbrake
All driving instructors are recommended to wear the relevant personal protective masks and gloves throughout each lesson, and pupils are also asked to wear a mask too. No handshake will take place, and social distancing will be maintained outside of the vehicle.
Air conditioning will not be used throughout lessons, but the driving instructor will at all times ensure that the car is well ventilated.
All pupils will be contacted ahead of their driving lesson to ensure that they are feeling well and are symptom free.
Within the vehicle, the driving instructor and pupil will converse while facing forwards, avoiding any face-to-face contact.
What theory tests will look like
Theory tests restart from July 4, with test centres configured to maintain social distancing and ensure hygiene standards are met. You can now book a theory test via the DVSA website.
Among the measures in place are using floor markings to keep people 2 metres apart and spacing workstations and chairs so each candidate is two metres away from other people. Workstations, including computers and headphones, will be cleaned before every test and extra cleaning of test centres is taking place.
Staff will wear a face covering (unless there’s a medical reason that it’s not recommended for them) and gloves and candidates are also asked to wear a face mask if they can, which they will have to remove briefly for identification purposes.
If attending for a test you must go into the test centre alone. This is to help with social distancing.
What practical tests will look like
Practical tests will resume on Wednesday, July 22, with learners whose tests were cancelled due to lockdown given priority. If you did not previously have a test booked you cannot currently arrange one.
Candidates are being told not to arrive for your driving test more than 5 minutes before your appointment time. Driving test centre waiting rooms and toilets will be closed to help prevent the spread of coronavirus. However, you’ll be able to use the toilet if you have a disability or medical condition, or you’re pregnant.
During the test itself, driving examiners will face coverings and might also choose to wear gloves and use disposable seat covers. Candidates will also be required to wear a face mask unless they have a “good reason” not to. Your test will be cancelled if you come for your test without a face covering and you did not declare you could not wear one when you arranged your test.
If you have a problem with your face covering during the test, your driving examiner will ask you to stop so you can adjust it. Your driving examiner will end the test early if it becomes a safety issue.
At the end of your test your driving examiner will ask you to get out of your vehicle before they give you your test result feedback in order to minimise the amount of time you need to spend in the vehicle.
When you must not attend a test
For both theory and practical driving tests you must not attend your appointment if:
- you or someone you live with has coronavirus symptoms
- you’ve been told by the NHS Test and Trace service that you’ve been in contact with a person who has coronavirus
- you have entered or returned to the UK in the last 14 days, except in very limited situations
- You have to stay at home (self-isolate).
- If you’re classed as clinically extremely vulnerable from coronavirus