Learner drivers are increasingly falling victim to a “flourishing black market” in driving tests, with third parties using “bots” on the Government’s own website to snap up slots, an MP has warned.
Lib Dem Munira Wilson raised concerns about driving tests being bought and resold by companies using automated software.
The Twickenham MP said one of her constituents saw one advertised for £240, and accused driving schools of also “gaming the system”.
She was not the only member in the Commons to turn the spotlight on the issue, with Conservative Greg Smith saying one of his constituents reported a six-month wait to book a driving test.
Speaking during transport questions, the Lib Dem MP Ms Wilson said: “Learner drivers are increasingly falling victim to a flourishing black market in driving tests.
“Third parties are using bots on the Government’s own website to snap up driving tests slots, selling them for sometimes double or triple the price, with one of my constituents seeing one advertised for £240. Even driving schools are gaming the system.
“So can I ask the minister, with (The) AA research showing the most vulnerable including young care leavers are being hit the hardest, what is the Government doing to crack down on this exploitation? And will ministers stop the bots?”
He added: “There has been a significant drop in traffic to these services because of the DVSA’s successful work in identifying booking apps and bots but there are some driving instructors who do indeed book them within the system for their own use.”
Mr Holden also said that in Ms Wilson’s constituency, the waiting times in February were 8.5 weeks and 7.3 weeks respectively, adding: “So there’s no need for people to use any of these bots. They can book a few weeks in advance.”
Meanwhile, Buckingham MP Mr Smith suggested ministers should consider changing the point at which tests are released, as he argued the “genuine public” might not be at their computers at 6am on a Monday morning.
He said: “I have received correspondence from a number of constituents struggling to get driving tests in my constituency in recent weeks.
“For example, a constituent reporting that the nearby Bletchley testing centre has nothing available for six months.
“On top of her (Munira Wilson) question about the growing purchasing of tests by third parties, will he consider changing the point at which tests are released?
“Because I am led to believe it’s 6am on a Monday morning that enables these third parties to get in, book them all up quickly, rather than leaving them open for the genuine public, most of whom probably aren’t at their computers at that time.”
Mr Holden said he will “certainly look at that”.