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Student Takeover: The impact of Covid on learner drivers

In the latest of our Student Takeover pieces featuring work from students at Peterborough College, Robyn Squires reveals the difficulties learner drivers and instructors have faced during the pandemic.
Red driving
Robyn has been unable to take her test so far

Have your driving lessons been affected? You won't be the only one.

Learner drivers have been impacted severely due to the pandemic, with a 17-week waiting list before you can book a theory test in Peterborough. Lessons have continuously been stopped and started over the past four to six months depending on the length of lockdowns and the rates of COVID infections.

By the time learner drivers start lessons again, they will have forgotten important aspects of learning to drive and will need a refresher to their memory, with limited spaces available for lessons.

Since the nation went back into lockdown in January, lessons haven't been able to resume and they are not allowed to start again until April 12 at the earliest.

This is something that has had a big impact on me - back towards the end of last year, I’d gone such a long time without a driving lesson, I had to continue more lessons to refresh my knowledge on driving, before being able to do my test.

The waiting list rose to around 23 weeks back in September last year and then we went back into another lockdown to start this year.

I haven't been able to do my lessons or my test yet due to social distancing in the cars - it won’t be until mid-April when my lessons resume, while the practical tests cannot resume until April 22 at the earliest.

During lessons, learners and instructors will continue to wear masks unless you are exempt for a physical or mental illness, impairment or disability. Wearing glasses isn't a reason not to wear a mask. 

All cars will need to be sanitised on the steering wheel, gear shifter and indicators before and after each lesson ready for another student.

My driving instructor, Aaron Hayes, from Red Driving School, said: “The impact on the driving instructor industry from Covid has been really big.

“A lot of students are having their theory and practice tests pushed back, but more than once, sometimes a few times.”  

When lessons can resume, Aaron is having to prioritise learners who are waiting for their tests to make sure they are 100 per cent ready.

He is also having to squeeze people in to fit around times they are available, and the times that he is also available.

However, another factor for Aaron is his loss of earnings. He said: “If learner drivers are not having lessons, the instructors are not earning.”

This has also had an effect on the learners, as most of them pay for their own lessons from their own jobs, but due to their own lack of employment, they’re unable to pay for lessons - thus creating a vicious cycle.


Robyn Squires (18) is a student at Peterborough College studying L3 Media and Journalism. She is inspiring to be a news presenter, travelling around the world doing live reports. To apply for courses at the college, visit: www.peterborough.ac.uk