The booking service for practical driving tests has been suspended just days after being reopened to the public.
The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) has closed the online booking service until 8am on Wednesday, August 26 after it was overwhelmed by demand over the weekend.
The system had been suspended since March and initially, the DVSA was only allowing learners who had a previous test date to rebook via the service. However, on Friday, August 21 it opened the service to new bookings for all learners in England and Wales.
Within 12 hours the online booking site had been visited almost seven million times and many members of the public reported being unable to access the site at all or losing their booking part way through the process.
The DVSA says it has now taken the service out of action for “essential maintenance” to ensure it can cope with the demand.
As a result, learners will not be able to book, change, check details of, or cancel their driving test.
An estimated 400,000 driving tests were cancelled during lockdown, with affected candidates given priority when it came to booking a new test date.
Practical tests resumed on July 22 in England and August 17 in Wales. They will also restart on September 1 in Northern Ireland and September 14 in Scotland but Scottish learners are currently unable to rebook their tests, with no indication of when they will be contacted by the DVSA to rearrange their test.
Gareth Llewellyn, DVSA chief executive, said: “Coronavirus has severely impacted our business as usual operations, including by stopping driving tests in March. Since then DVSA have 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, August 26 and are sorry for any inconvenience caused.”