Learner Drivers: The Effects of the Covid-19 Lockdown Survey

The Covid-19 lockdown has taken its toll on everyone, as has the pandemic itself.

InsureLearnerDriver asked over 5,000 learner drivers in May 2021 to share with us their experience from the impact of Covid-19, the lockdowns and restrictions on those learning to drive, and how those learners feel moving forward.

Some of the results are very surprising, with a high percentage of learners considering to totally give up on driving, through to a lot of dissatisfaction with DVSA due to Theory Tests expiring and cancelled Driving Tests. Loads of Learners have been using the period to practice driving with mum & dad, with the odd fall out here and there!

Below we have included an overview of the key survey results, along with many direct quotes from learner drivers. It clear to see that this truly will have a knock-on effect for new drivers for years to come – we just hope that DVSA efforts to work through the backlog of test as soon as possible can help improve the situation.

40% of Learner Drivers have ‘considered giving up’ on learning to drive

Have you ever considered giving up on learning to drive due to Covid-19

  • 43.9%
  • Yes
  • No
  • Maybe
  • Not at all, I am desperate to drive
  • stop start getting nowhere

It's really expensive in terms of lessons to keep starting from square one again, every time we come out of a lockdown, I feel I have lost a lot of time and money.

Just days before each time I am due to take my first driving lesson, with an instructor, another national lockdown is put in place. As a result my motivation to learn driving theory has severely been affected, and I continue to push back when I should be learning because I think to myself ‘What is the point?

The main problem has been the fact that tests are suspended. It makes learning pointless if you've no idea when you are likely to be able to actually drive.

86% of Learner Drivers believe Covid-19 ‘delayed them passing their Driving Test’ - this is understandable, as we have been in lockdown for the majority of the past year. It also shows that it takes several months of practice to build up learner drivers’ confidence, before passing their Driving Test. The short periods when the lockdown was lifted proved to be an insufficient period to enable learners to become qualified drivers. This was particularly effected by the Government ruling to restrict almost any type of driving practice, even with members of your own household, during the last lockdown.

Do you believe that Covid-19 delayed you from passing your driving test?

  • Yes
  • No
  • It has delayed passing my theory test
  • I booked it late December and passed but I guess I could've passed sooner if it weren't for Covid
  • Not Driving long enough yet
  • I had 2 tests booked missed both
  • It has delayed my start

I have only got until 21st October 2021 to pass my driving test or I will have to sit the theory test again which I think is unfair. I have had 2 tests cancelled due to lockdown and have now got to wait until 28th July before I can take my practical driving test

6 Months Delay over 50% – of Learners believe Covid-19 'has delayed them over 6 months in passing their Driving Test'

As can be seen below, the period of time that the delay has affected learners ranges a lot, but over half of the learners have responded to suggest that their ability to pass their driving test has been delayed by between 6 months and 20 months.

This all adds up to long delays to becoming qualified and also delays for new learner drivers wanting to start learning, as Driving Instructors are still teaching the drivers waiting for tests. This, in turn, can have a negative effect on young people being able to apply for certain jobs or further education where driving may be required.

If yes, how long do you feel you have been delayed by?

  • 1-3 months
  • 4-6 months
  • 6-8 months
  • 9-11 months
  • 12-14 months
  • 15-17 months
  • 18-20 months

10% Delayed over 12 Months – over 10% of Learners believe the lockdowns has put them over a year behind in their learning.

the rebooking system was awful. my test was a week before they started back up and i got out back in for 4 months later. it’s already costly and it’s just making it more and more expensive.

Covid-19 Concerns - Do Learners Still Feel Safe Sharing a Car with a Driving Instructor?

There’s good news for Driving Instructors on this front, 88% of our Learner Drivers had no concerns returning to Driving Lessons with an Instructor, even though many younger drivers will not yet be vaccinated.

Will you feel safe on driving lessons with a driving instructor after lockdown?

  • Yes
  • No
  • Not applicable, now passed my test
  • have lots lots of confidence
  • N/A
  • I have passed my test
  • Not Sure
With - 65% planning to carry on lessons with their Driving Instructors as soon as lockdown eases.

On the bright side, over 65% of learners indicated that they intend to carry on learning to drive with an instructor as restrictions ease, and almost 30% responded saying that they will still have occasional driving lessons with an instructor.

Importantly, almost 89% of respondents also said they felt safe to take driving lessons with an instructor again once lockdown is over.

To end on a more optimistic note, some people did still manage to learn to drive during what has been an incredibly challenging year for everyone. With a bit of lucky timing, perseverance, and mum’s help, here are some of those stories:

I managed to get lessons everytime it was allowed as well as getting learner insurance on my mums car and then i passed my practical test first time in December 2020

I'm lucky that I could learn with my parents. I started the basics with them with a view to going onto an instructor after that. My first instructor lesson was cancelled, hopefully my first one will be next week.

It took some flexibility but with my Mum's help, and a great driving instructor, I got through it.