The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) has apologised after “unprecedented demand” for driving tests forced it to close an online booking service. The service was reopened on Friday (August 21), having been closed since lockdown began in March. However, the DVSA halted bookings again due to a huge number of site visitors.

By 20:00 on Friday, the service had been visited almost seven million times, despite the fact the DVSA was only taking bookings for the next six weeks. This level of demand, the organisation claims, meant some people were not able to complete their bookings, while others simply had great difficulty accessing the service. The DVSA has apologised for any “inconvenience” caused by the issues.

The rush to use the DVSA’s online service came after the organisation effectively stopped taking bookings during the coronavirus lockdown. Since March 20, the DVSA has only been dealing with applications for emergency driving tests for critical workers.

Now, the service is back offline as the DVSA carries out “essential maintenance”, and it won’t resume until 08:00 on Wednesday, August 26. This maintenance, the DVSA claims, will help the system cope with increased levels of demand seen since the lockdown was lifted.

That means until Wednesday morning, learner drivers will not be able to book driving tests or change their driving test appointments online. The system will not let them check their driving test appointment details or cancel their tests online, either.

Woman stressed taking driving test in car

Gareth Llewellyn, the DVSA’s chief executive, said he was “sorry” for any inconvenience caused by the maintenance, but he said the changes were “urgent”.

“Coronavirus has severely impacted our business as usual operations, including by stopping driving tests in March,” he said. “Since then, the DVSA has only been dealing with applications for emergency driving tests for critical workers.

“Following unprecedented demand for the driving test booking system with almost seven million attempts to book a test when it opened, we need to carry out urgent maintenance so people can book tests. We have to close the booking service until Wednesday 26 August and are sorry for any inconvenience caused."

Learner driver with instructor taking lessons