Learner drivers and instructors are looking forward to getting back behind the wheel after nearly 60 per cent of driving tests were cancelled in Blackburn with Darwen.

In Blackburn with Darwen, 57 per cent of tests were cancelled between March and December, with 2,778 tests stopped in their tracks while in the same time period, 2,025 took their test.

Between March and December of 2019, of 6,997 tests, just 562 were cancelled - equivalent to just eight per cent.

Of those who were lucky enough to take their test after March 2020, 982, or 48 per cent, passed in comparison to last year when 3,082 people passed their test, an equivalent of 44 per cent.

Chris Powell who runs Powells School of Motoring, based in Ewood, said that the testing capacity will need to be increased to keep up after the delays.

He said: “At the moment, the demand for learning is going to far exceed the capacity for tests.

“There are people that are starting again from Monday and some of them had tests in back in January so they have got their tests coming up in May so they have a few weeks.

“It has affected a lot of people. Some people want to learn to drive because of their job and some to help with stuff like shopping or taking someone to hospital.”

In the first lockdown last March, key workers were still able to book and take their test, however lessons and tests for everyone else were postponed until July 4.

In February, emergency services workers were able to take practical and theory driving tests during lockdown in they need to drive as part of their job and respond to ‘threats to life’.

Sarah’s School of Motoring, based in Nelson, has said that the backlog of tests, has meant one of her pupils has had to reschedule their theory three times during lockdowns and ended up having to isolate on the forth attempted booking, meaning they are still waiting to be able to sit their theory.

Sarah Coffey, from Rawtenstall, became a driving instructor four years ago and said that she has been busier than ever with enquiries for new learners.

She said: “I have been telling new starters to book their theory test straight away because what we don’t want is for people to get to a certain standard and then they need to book their test.

“It could take two or three attempts and the process will just get longer and longer and if they have that theory test certificate it will speed the whole process up.”

For learners, it has been a long year of chopping and changing lesson bookings and tests, with the delays leading to wait lists of five months for test bookings.

Nationally, the DVSA has built up a backlog of around 420,000 test cancellations made as a result of coronavirus restrictions.

Lessons will be able to begin again in the next lifting of lockdown on April 12, with driving tests due to start again on April 22, meaning after a 14 week break, some learners may have to get themselves test ready in 10 days.