“I would spend a really long time every day doing school but then all my free time seemed
to disappear really quickly,” she said. “It didn’t feel like there was a lot of time to go driving, even though there probably was more than there is now.”
Ms Hopkins clocked up roughly 90 of the 120 required hours after restrictions eased and
despite finding it “a bit tricky” to navigate booking her test, due to extended wait times and
worries it may be cancelled, she said “it ended up going pretty smoothly” and she is
enjoying the independence of having her P-plates.
Driving tests were suspended in NSW for three months from late March due to COVID-19
and only priority tests which met certain criteria were able to undergo an assessment.
Tests were reintroduced in phases from June with availability for all customers from
Service NSW said “appropriate safeguards” including disposable plastic seat covers and
gloves were introduced to prevent the spread of coronavirus and changes were made to
“Service NSW has recruited and trained an additional 50 testing officers since June to
increase the number of drivers test available,” a Service NSW spokesperson said in a
“A Mobile Service Centre has also been delivering up to 500 tests per week at Howell Oval in Penrith since mid-September to help manage demand in western Sydney and will continue to do so in the interim.”
Between January and October, 210,321 tests were conducted.
Nineteen-year-old Rithwik Kumar from Epping, in his first year at UNSW studying commerce and computer science, booked the first available appointment when the tests reopened in July.
After confirming health regulations allowed the resumption of driving lessons, he “was
motivated to more hours” during lockdown as he had the time and wanted to do something
“All my extra-curricular activities I was doing at university or outside of university were quite
limited in their opportunities and that presented quite a bit of time,” Mr Kumar said. “Because all my classes were online there was less of a requirement … my parents started working from home.”
Mr Kumar said while waiting to do his test he did about 20 more hours than required and
decided not to rebook the Safe Drivers Course after it was cancelled due to COVID-19, felt confident he knew the rules of the road.
Manager and driving instructor at Sydney’s Prestige Driving School, Sina Bakhshalian,
said the demand for tests and instructors is not expected to drop anytime soon.
He said the summer holidays has always been a popular period, it is “already
difficult” to get a licence and the suspension earlier in the year created a big
backlog of students.
“My speculation is it will be quite busy until this backlog clears in the next few months,” he
said. “I don’t think they’ll be any drop in the demand for driving lessons and driving tests so it will
be a busy period for driving schools.”