Stark fall in PCV driving tests

The dwindling supply of PCV drivers is highlighted by the driving test passes since the height of the pandemic.

In the five years from 2007/8, 24,568 PCV tests were passed. In the five years until April 2022, just 16,586 drivers joined the industry – a fall of more than 30%. Not all of this is accounted for by the lockdown months, when no tests were taken. In the ten months from April 2022 until February 2023, just 1,864 tests were passed, says a DfT report.

Although there was a two-month lockdown in 2021/22, the 2,519 passes compares to around 4,500 in pre-pandemic years – a shortfall of 2,000 new drivers. In addition, it is known that a large number of drivers retired during the pandemic and have not returned to the workforce.

The figures for driving test applications are just as alarming. In 2007/8, 10,331 tests were conducted. By 2019/20, this had fallen to 7,345, although the pass rate was progressively higher, going from around 50% to 60%. What is striking is that, while the number of male applicants has fallen in that time, the number of female applicants has remained fairly consistent at about 1,500 per year. Male applicants numbered 8,629 in 2007/8 but, by 2019/20, had fallen to 5,820.

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