The waiting times to take the driving test at the Central Bureau for Driving Skills (CBR) are still too long. Candidates sometimes have to wait months before they can take their practical exam, while the CBR itself applies a standard of a maximum of seven weeks. To clear the backlog more quickly, driving schools with a low pass rate can claim fewer exam places from today than driving schools that do better.
Since the corona crisis, the CBR has been struggling with backlogs in taking the practical exam. After the lockdowns, 300,000 exams had to be caught up, which increased waiting times. According to a spokesman for the CBR, that backlog has still not been caught up. By hiring extra examiners, the agency is slowly but surely reducing waiting times, but that takes time.
The average national waiting time for the practical exam is now 11.7 weeks. In the Randstad, this can take up to a maximum of 18 weeks. Only in Zeeland and Limburg is the waiting time below the standard of seven weeks.
Driving schools with a success rate of 30 percent or higher can reserve extra exam places on Saturday from today. It is the first time that the CBR has made a selection between driving schools that are doing well and less well. “This has to do with the frustration of examiners who work overtime on a day off and then have to drop five people,” explains the CBR spokesperson. “We do this to keep our people motivated, but also to show the industry: it has to be better.”
The success rate at the CBR is slightly above 50 percent and on average a candidate takes 2.5 practical exams before passing. “As far as we are concerned, that success rate can be increased. The industry must get to work for that.”
Too early for exam
According to the spokesperson, it happens too often that students take exams too early. “Three thousand times a year our examiners have to cancel the exam because the candidate is not ready at all and is a danger on the road. That is far too many. The more people pass the first time, the fewer re-exams and therefore the faster the CBR is catching up with the backlog.”
For driving instructors, the long waiting times mean that they have to make an early assessment of when a student can take a practical exam. Boudewijn Pijnappel has had a driving school in Oisterwijk in Brabant for 23 years. “Most of the exam places will be available in four, sometimes even five months. But if you estimate in time how many lessons someone needs, you will find it.”
As a driving instructor, you have to be quick to claim those exam places, says Pijnappel. “The places are scarce. If you look at the CBR site often enough, it will work, but you don’t always have time for that if you’re in the car all day.”
And companies are responding well to that. This has created a trade in the reservation and resale of exam places. That is not illegal, but the CBR strongly disapproves of this undesirable method.
“There are administrative offices that make reservations, especially for small driving schools that do not have the time themselves,” says the spokesman for the CBR. He calls that an important service. “But there are also agencies that abuse the system. It is not the intention that reserved exam places are resold for higher prices than the CBR charges.”
Nevertheless, the CBR does not intend to adjust the system to prevent such practices. The organization wants to continue to give driving instructors the opportunity to change an exam spot if a candidate is not ready for it in time. “If we delete the option to switch, we will be duping thousands of driving schools and candidates. The driving schools and we do not want candidates to take the exam who are not well prepared,” says the spokesperson.
He adds that the CBR has no indications that the trade in exam places is happening on a large scale. “But it is an effect of the scarcity of the exam.”
The spokesperson emphasizes that the CBR has hired and trained more than a hundred new examiners since the lockdowns. “An examiner can conduct about 1500 exams per year, so we are working hard to further increase our exam capacity and thus get the waiting times back within the norm as soon as possible.”
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