A FRUSTRATED learner driver is calling for an extension to theory test certificates after not being given the opportunity to pass a practical test amid lockdown.

Kirsty McLaughlan was feeling confident before her driving test on March 26, last year. But when lockdown hit, her test was cancelled and later rescheduled until July 1.

Her test has since been rescheduled another three times and is currently “on hold”, waiting to be rescheduled yet again.

Kirsty, from Kinning Park, passed her theory test in 2019, but it expired on April 3 this year.

Despite a whole year of not being able to sit a practical test, the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) say they cannot provide any extensions to theory certificates, which last two years.

Glasgow Times:

The 35-year-old said: “It’s just a nightmare, and I must only be one of thousands in the same situation.

“With my theory now expired it means I can’t rebook my practical test now. I need to get the theory booked and passed before I can book another driving test again.

“I missed my test by a few days when the pandemic hit, and it’s just been rescheduled again and again so I’ve gone a full year without doing any tests.

“Now they’re saying I need to re-book my theory test, and I’ll need to pay for it, but I just think it’s shocking. It’s not the end of the world having to pay it again but it’s still a duplication of costs that people could do without.”

Kirsty, who works as a strategy planner and business lead, is determined to fight her case for an extension.

But, when checking for available dates to book another theory test, there was none available at the centre closest to her from now until the end of July.

The online portal does not show beyond July, and this was the same for the second nearest centre in Clydebank.

Glasgow Times:

Kirsty added: “We’re still not even able to get back out learning just now, so there’s been a year of no driving to then be told they’re not giving you an extension, so you’re going to need to restart the whole process again.

“You can’t even get a theory test booked any time soon so how much further is that going to hold everyone back who is trying to book new dates?

“If it’s working the same way that the practical test system was working, anybody that had one booked is getting prioritised and rightly so, so it’s just going to be a massive backlog and I think it’s so unreasonable that they’re not entertaining anybody with an extension.

“It’s so frustrating because I felt so ready, I was confident and I was saying ‘I know I’m going to pass this’, although you never know what’s going to happen on the day.”

When Kirsty got in touch with the DVSA to ask for help, she was told the theory “cannot be extended under any circumstances”.

She said: “I think they’re response is so unreasonable; I just don’t understand that for existing drivers they can extend things like MOTs during the pandemic but they’re not doing anything to accommodate learner drivers.

“There’s no empathy, they’re not being reasonable at all and their response just feels very generic.

“We’ve had a year of not being able to do anything. The pandemic has put this completely out of our control and it’s unfair to penalise learner drivers who, through no fault of their own, have an expired theory now.

“There are all these other schemes that have been put in place but nothing for learner drivers.

“At the moment, it would be so in my benefit to be driving.

“My husband works shifts and with what’s going on, I don’t want to be going on public transport to go and get our messages.

“I’m really dependant on him now. I’m also worried about what it’s going to be when I return to work in Dennistoun. I would need to walk from Kinning Park into the East End or I’m going to need to go back on public transport which is a train and a bus twice a day.”

Glasgow Times:

The DVSA says it has plans in place to recover the cumulative backlog of theory tests by August this year.

A spokesman for the DVSA added: “Ensuring new drivers have current, relevant knowledge and skills to identify developing hazards is a vital part of the training for young and new drivers, who are disproportionality represented in casualty statistics.

“To ensure their safety, the government has decided not to extend theory test certificates and learners will need to pass another theory test if their certificate expires.”