Learners face a time limit to take their practical test after passing the theory (Image: Getty Images/Cultura RF)

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Learner drivers should be given more time between passing their theory test and sitting their practical exam because of a backlog caused by the coronavirus pandemic, Labour demands tonight.

Driving tests in Wales, England and Scotland are suspended as ministers desperately try to stop the spread of Covid-19.

Currently, learner drivers must pass their practical test, costing £62, within two years of their £23 theory.

But Labour says that after a year of cancellations due to pandemic restrictions, many have been unable to take their practical test in time.

More than 300,000 practical tests were axed in the first half of last year because of curbs.

Driving tests are suspended in the latest lockdown
(Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Learners have two years between passing their theory tests and taking the practical exam
(Image: PA)

Extending the period would help novice motorists beat a backlog, according to Shadow Transport Secretary Jim McMahon.

He called on the Government to give learner drivers an extra year to pass their practical before their theory pass expires.

He said: “Through no fault of their own, thousands of learner drivers have been unable to take their practical test this year and many have seen their theory test certificate expire in that time.

“It’s likely many of these are students or young people just starting out in work, who should not have to fork out for and endure the additional stress of a second theory test due to circumstances completely beyond their control.”

Shadow Transport Secretary Jim McMahon
(Image: Manchester Evening News)

An average 140,000 practical tests are taken every month in a normal year.

However, in April, May and June last year, only 6,000 learner drivers took their tests – an average of 2,000 a month.

In March, the average learner driver faced six-month wait for a test.

Labour fears the backlog has grown during the pandemic, with more than 300,000 practical tests cancelled in the first half of the year.

A Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency spokesman said: "It is vital that a candidate’s road safety knowledge is up to date when they take their practical test and the longer the gap between the theory and practical the greater the risk that knowledge diminishes.

“We continue to keep the situation under review.”