What is it like learning to drive in 2023?

The mate in question has waited five months since booking his test, and now that the day is finally around the corner, it’s unlikely to happen when it’s supposed to. With no confirmation as such, his anxiety is surely rocketing.

This volatility makes it all the more important to pass my theory test and book my practical as soon as possible. The sooner I do, the more flexibility I will have should that final exam be cancelled or pushed back because of unforeseen circumstances.

Nevertheless, even booking a theory test slot has proven a hurdle. My original payment went through to the DVSA, but the website stated that my booking failed, with no confirmation in sight.

Cut to the next Monday and a customer-service representative explains to me that the slot I selected probably got snagged as I was paying. We then proceed to arrange a new test over the phone, but this also fails, the chosen slot having been booked in the 30 seconds the rep took to read out a list of available dates.

It’s all well and good that the DVSA has created a flood of new slots, but when demand is so high that booking becomes a matter of luck, surely the system needs a ground-up overhaul?

Total hours completed: 14

Total hours booked: 14

Cost: £70 (first two hours), £487 (next 12 hours), £28 (theory test booking and DVSA revision app)

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Saturday 4 February 2023: it was supposed to be so easy

“Waiting outside. AA driving instructor”: my phone dings and I race out the door, trying to get a handle on the fact that I’m quaking like I’ve been possessed by a 1980s breakdancer stuck on planet rock.

Before we depart, my instructor first checks my licence and notes down my details. He then takes the wheel and drives us five minutes away to a quiet neighbourhood I’d been around hundreds of times growing up.