The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency relaunched the online booking system on August 21 but has now had to shut it for a second time after it was overwhelmed by demand.
More than 270,000 people tried to access the site when it went live on Wednesday, August 26, causing it to crash for a second time in just five days.
It had previously been out of action for five months during lockdown and access was then restricted as the DVSA tried to clear some of the related backlog of cancelled tests.
Why is the booking system not working?
The DVSA first shut the booking system down on Monday, August 24 after “unprecedented demand” caused the site to crash. Some users reported that they were unable to access the service at all and others found themselves unable to complete their booking once they did get connected.
The service opened to new bookings from the general public in England and Wales on Friday, August 21. Prior to that, only learners with a pre-existing cancelled test date had been able to rebook.
The DVSA said that the service was visited seven million times in the 12 hours after it relaunched, overwhelming the site.
When it reopened the service on August 26, users quickly complained of difficulty accessing it, with others losing their bookings part-way through.
At its peak, users were told they were part of a queue of more than 270,000 people trying to book a test.
At 5.30pm on August 26, the DVSA shut down the service again, saying all available slots had been filled.
An estimated 400,000 driving tests were cancelled during lockdown as driving lessons and tests were suspended for all but key workers. As restrictions began to ease, lessons and theory tests were allowed to resume in early July. Practical tests resumed on July 22 in England and August 17 in Wales. They will also restart on September 1 in Northern Ireland and September 14 in Scotland.
When will the driving test booking service restart?
The DVSA has said the online booking system will be working again from 8am on Tuesday, September 1.
Until then, learner drivers will not be able to book, change, check details of, or cancel their driving test.
When the system reopens, it will only be for learners in England and Wales. Candidates in Scotland will have to wait until those with a previous test date have rebooked before the service is opened to the general public.
A limited number of spaces will be available and only up to six weeks in advance. The DVSA says this is to ensure it can react quickly to any changes in government advice on dealing with coronavirus.
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.”