Eight in every 10 driving instructors have a waiting list for new students after the coronavirus pandemic, according to new research. A survey of 150 driving instructors found the vast majority have a flock of learners waiting to begin lessons, with many suggesting would-be pupils will have to wait months for lessons.

According to the study by pre-17 driving school Young Driver, 81 percent of driving instructors currently have a pupil waiting list. More than two thirds (68 percent) said youngsters would have to wait more than two months for their first lesson, while more than a quarter (26 percent) said learners would have to wait three months or more.

Six percent said they had a waiting list of six months or more, but three percent confessed they could take on new students right away. However, almost seven in every 10 instructors (69 percent) said they couldn’t offer pupils as many lessons as they might want due to the high demand.

Learner student driving car with instructor

As a result, more than one in three instructors (37 percent) said some of their pupils had given up on learning to drive for a few years yet. Some said their students were giving up because of expired theory tests and a backlog in practical tests due to the coronavirus pandemic, while some had seen their financial situations change.

Young Driver has advised those who are unable to get an instructor immediately to cast their net as wide as possible, signing up to multiple waiting lists in case there’s a cancellation. The company is also advising those approaching their 17th birthday to start looking for an instructor early in a bid to start soon after the big day.

Learner driver and instructor standing outside car

The company also recommends getting practice with “trusted family members or friends”, although they must be over 21, fully qualified and have had a driving licence for at least three years to accompany a learner. And to help the lessons flow as quickly as possible, the company suggests learning the theory quickly to prevent delays due to waiting lists for tests.

“The delays in the system are very frustrating for teenagers who want to learn to drive and it’s disheartening to hear many are having to put their dream of learning to drive on hold,” said Sue Waterfield, the head of marketing at Young Driver. “Driving can open so many doors for young people in terms of employment and education, especially in more rural locations.”