The distances learner drivers travel to take their driving test in Wiltshire has increased in the last few years and it is expected to continue rising, according to new data.

Learner driver insurers Marmalade have analysed data from Freedom of Information requests and the DVSA to find out how far people are travelling to a test centre in the South West, often because of a shortage of tests available to book locally due to the Covid pandemic backlog and long waiting lists.

In particular, Chippenham and Salisbury test centres are in the top 10 for the highest average distances people have had to travel to sit their test – at 15.83 miles and 15.41 miles respectively.

They have also found the South West is the fourth highest region for people travelling longer distances on average to take their test and between 2019 and 2023, the distance travelled for a driving test increased by nearly 25 per cent.

But Marmalade predicts that people in the South West will have to travel 20.47 miles on average by 2030 and they have even highlighted cases where people have travelled over 600 miles for their driving test.

Driving instructor Mark Steeples from Pass Mark School of Driving said: “I find it pretty astonishing that learners could end up having to travel around 25 miles for a test. I’m amazed at the year-on-year increase in distance travelled for a test, but I suppose it shows the desperation that people have in wanting to learn how to drive and they’ll go to any means necessary to do it.

“I’ve had enquiries from people who want to learn and get into a test around 50 miles away from me. Why go to an area that you don’t know? It’s hard enough doing a test anyway, you have a lifetime to drive on the UK roads, but don’t pick the day of your driving test to do that. 

“A lot of instructors just teach test routes in the local area, but that means that most learners won’t be prepared for any test route and the potential impacts of driving in a new place.”

He added: “My advice to learners is if you’ve done your theory, get your test booked now, but only take it if you’re confident and ready to pass based on the advice of your instructor, and be prepared to reschedule it if you’re not fully ready.”