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‘An absolute mess’: learner drivers forced to buy tests on black market as companies block-book slots

As brokers exploit the hunt for tests with an automated ‘bot’ system, many are paying extortionate fees to ditch their L-plates

Britain’s system of allocating driving tests is in disarray in many parts of the country as learner drivers are forced to travel hundreds of miles for their tests or pay unofficial brokers up to £400 to avoid the queues, reveals an Observer investigation.

The number of drivers waiting to take their practical tests climbed above 500,000 this year, rising from 147,716 in January 2020 to 538,702 in August.

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