Coronavirus (COVID-19): What does this mean for theory and practical driving tests?

What is Coronavirus (COVID-19)?

COVID-19 or more commonly referred to as Coronavirus and is one of a number of diseases which comes from animals and has been passed to humans. Given it is not a disease of human origin, our immune systems don’t quite know how to handle the virus and as a result we’re having a far more difficult time batting it away than we would do a common cold. Instead, the symptoms can range from entirely asymptomatic to deaths and the bigger challenge is the relentlessness of how contagious the virus is. Merely from touching the same surface as someone who is infected you can contract.

It’s scary. It’s unlike anything many of us have ever seen before. Many people are likening the experience to something you would see in a movie as there’s no closer contextual reference.

What does this mean?

In order to prevent the rapid spread and prevent more people from dying, the UK government has enforced restrictions. The restrictions primarily orient around limiting human contact so as to reduce the chance of spreading the disease. Makes sense, right? Of course it does, we all want to save lives and it is the right thing to do, but the implications of the restrictions as they increase in severity are becoming more and more impactful and transformative to day-to-day life, businesses and the entire world as we know it. Who would have thought they could say that sentence and believe it as we were counting down the clock to midnight on New Years Eve?!

The restrictions escalated from ‘encouraged social distancing’ and ‘recommended working from home’ to – ‘no, we’re going to fine you if you’re outside of your house’ in what feels like a heartbeat. But that is the current reality, unless you’re in a very small set of industries business has grinded to a halt. Holidays cancelled, events cancelled, schools closed, stores closed, restaurants closed and an inconceivable number of further cancelled plans that you can’t even begin to think about unless they’re happening to you.

While COVID-19 is causing far reaching complications, one of those which is at our front door is the impact on getting out on the road and completing your driving test and theory test. Test centres, learner drivers and driving instructors alike will have been hanging on a thread while waiting to hear the government’s plans for learning to drive in the UK and which precautions are to be put in place to halt the spread.

While the news was due, no one understood how it would impact driving lessons, many were hoping for light restrictions but to allow driving lessons to continue for learner drivers and for business to continue for driving instructors. We now have the latest news for what this means for Theory Tests and Driving Tests, of which test centres around the UK have now already enforced.

Theory Tests

Theory Tests pose the risk of people being in close proximity to one another while in the Test Centre and therefore have had restrictions imposed upon them that all theory tests are to be suspended until 20th April 2020.

From a financial standpoint, it has been confirmed that all learner drivers who have booked a theory test will be fully refunded and should be expecting an email notifying them of the cancellation. While the email may come through within the next day or two, it is reported that it could take longer for the funds to arrive in your account.

Check your bank account daily and if after a couple of weeks it still hasn’t arrived then we would suggest reaching out to the local theory test centre.

Providing the regulations don’t change you will be able to re book your theory test for a time after the 20th April.

Driving Tests

Driving tests have been suspended due to driving instructors being in close proximity to many people every day for extended periods of time. The restriction for booking driving tests is all tests suspended for up to 3 months (taking us to mid-June 2020).

Similar to theory tests, you should expect to receive an email confirming that your test will need to be rebooked for 3 months time and you will receive a refund over the coming weeks.

It’s sad news and a sad reality with so many hopeful learner drivers going to be separated from freedom on the road for another 3 months but as driving instructors and learner drivers we know safety first. We talk about it all the time as our number one rule and for the next couple of months while the rule is a significant hindrance, we have to keep in mind that it is with the objective of safety being first.