Driving test website shut down again as 270,000 try to book exam

The DVSA’s driving test booking site has been shut down for the second time in a week after crashing under massive demand.

The online booking service will remain inaccessible until Tuesday, September 1 after being overwhelmed by more than 270,000 learners trying to secure a date for their test.

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The service initially relaunched last Friday after a four-month shut down but was quickly overwhelmed by demand, with the DVSA shutting it down for “essential maintenance” on Monday, to help cope with the demand.

However, shortly after it reopened on Wednesday, August 26, users began to report problems accessing the site, some saw their booking fail part-way through and others were told they were part of a queue with more than 270,000 others at its peak.

By 5.30pm on Wednesday, the DVSA said all available lesson slots had been filled and it was shutting the service down again. It will reopen to the general public on Tuesday, September 1.

Driving tests were cancelled at the start of lockdown and people who had a previous date were allowed early access to book a new appointment. However, since Friday the service has been open to new bookings from the general public in England and Wales (learners in Scotland are yet to be allowed to book a new date).

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In a statement, the DVSA said: “Driving test availability is severely limited as a result of current social distancing measures put in place to protect customers and our staff from COVID-19. Levels of demand for tests are also exceptionally high. Please be patient as it may take time to book and take a test.

“We will reopen the booking service on Tuesday 1 September at 8am when more tests will have been added to the system.

“We’re sorry for the inconvenience this may have caused, we are putting in place measures to increase the number of tests available.”

Learners vented their frustration on social media, branding the latest problems a “shambles” and some called for driving instructors to be allowed to test students in lieu of examiners.

The DVSA said it had limited the number of tests available and kept them to a six-week window to cope with social distancing measures, and give key workers and learners with previously cancelled tests priority in booking a new one.

When the service reopens again learners will still only be able to book an appointment within the next six weeks. The DVSA says this is so it can react quickly to any changes in government guidance about coronavirus.