Driving tests: Relief and new-found freedom as post-lockdown tests get back in gear

By Annabel Rackham
Newsbeat reporter

Image source, Jack Croucher
Image caption,
Jack Croucher passed in Torquay with no minor faults

It's one of the most nerve-wracking experiences out there - taking your driving test.

They've been suspended since January because of lockdown, but started again in England and Wales on Thursday.

Jack Croucher, 22, managed to get hold of a test at "really short notice" - so only had three days to prepare.

He passed his test with no minor faults but in part credits his dad, who is a professional driving instructor, for free tuition during lockdown.

"I had no official lessons - I'd just drive around with my dad, I haven't paid for a lesson," he says.

"Driving up [to the test centre] I was really nervous but once I got into the flow of it, it went really easy and I enjoyed it."

Image source, Tom Davis
Image caption,
Tom Davis passed his driving test after a four-month wait

Tom Davis, 17, was the first person to pass at his test centre in Carmarthen in Wales on Thursday morning.

"I originally booked it in December - I was ready then but obviously we went into lockdown and I couldn't do it," he says.

The carpenter apprentice has had to rely on his mum, who's a teacher, to get him to work every day for the last few months.

"Getting to work was an absolute nightmare, I work half an hour away so it's quite the drive," he says.

There was added pressure on Tom to pass - demand for tests is so high he could have had to wait until the summer to retake it.

"This week I actually thrashed it with my driving instructor, we were out every day, three to four hours a day - I just wanted to pass to be honest," he says.

Tom bought his car before the last lockdown started and says he can't wait to finally drive it.

"I'll probably drive to work tomorrow morning, then I'll go see my grandmother - she lives quite far away so that will be nice."

Image source, Courtney Osborn
Image caption,
Courtney Osborn can't wait to take her son out in the car

22-year-old Courtney Osborn is also going to use her new-found freedom to go visit her gran - after passing her test on Thursday morning.

"I started [learning to drive] in December 2019 and already had had two tests cancelled because of lockdown," she says.

To get back up to speed in time for the test, Courtney took part in an intensive course when lessons resumed earlier this month.

Courtney, who isn't working at the moment, lives in a village in Norfolk and says it's been frustrating not being able to drive anywhere.

"It's been really hard being stuck and now I can take my son out."

Follow Newsbeat on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Listen to Newsbeat live at 12:45 and 17:45 weekdays - or listen back here.