Food shopping and a driving licence?

Learner drivers can now start their examination at supermarkets, under government plans to reduce costs and make the test more accessible.  Candidates will no longer have to travel to out-of-town test centres, and can instead meet an examiner at the store, reported The Sunday Times.

The trial is currently running at two Asda shops in Scotland, and the Driving Standards Agency which controls the test, says it hopes to roll it out nationally. Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons may host tests too.

According to the newspaper, the scheme is proving popular with young drivers in Arbroath and Forfar. A local instructor said: “We get students to do manoeuvres in a quiet area of the car park and it is going extremely smoothly. The alternative would have involved a 45-minute trip to Dundee. It would have cost students around £250 extra to take their test there (due in part to paying the instructor to get there).”

The move aims to cut costs, reduce waiting times (typically 6½ weeks) and encourage more people to take their driving test – this year has seen a 10% drop in exams.

The DSA has also started working with Halfords to carry out tests in 15 of its store car parks, and there are also plans to work with universities and fire stations. The intention is to provide premises where there is not a local test centre. In the case of Asda in Scotland, the partnership started when the lease on two local test centres expired, and now saves on rent as the supermarket provides space for free as a community initiative.