EFA continues its journey through European countries to understand how the driving school business is taking place after the lockdown. An interview with Mr. Frank Hoornenborg, the Dutch EFA delegate of the Bovag association.
How the reopening of driving schools is working after the lockdown in Netherlands?
In the Netherlands, the tests were out for a period of 9 weeks. At the reopening of the tests, the examination institute chose to use the first 8 weeks after the reopening for the tests that were already planned during the lockdown period, because all the test for the category A, AM and B were cancelled. The examination institute also started up in phases from 20% in week 1 to 100% in week 5. However, the problem is that not every tester was employable due to the fear of contamination. The start of new exams was done after a few weeks and no earlier than after the first 8 weeks (the lockdown period), with the idea that the candidates were also unable to take lessons during the lockdown period.
The driving schools were also given a quota, which meant that not all tests could be bought at once, so that market forces were created. This was not entirely successful because the system cannot prevent this for the 100%.
The tests for the CPC and BE categories were allowed to retain their already purchased capacity, because this also included many business customers and agreements had already been made. The theoretical capacity of the examination institute was reduced to 50% by the Corona, however, due to additional opening, this capacity could be increased to approx. 80%. The driving school sector is one of the contact professions in the Netherlands.
The driving school industry has drawn up a protocol on how they want to work after reopening of the sector. This protocol was signed in the Netherlands by a broad coalition, so we were allowed to open immediately when the contact professions that had a protocol and was coordinated with the government were allowed to open again if they worked according to the protocol.
Are waiting times for exams very long? Can you foresee the backlog of exams can be disposed of?
Specifically, this was that a maximum of 2 people were allowed in the vehicle, there should be airing between the driving lessons. the vehicle is cleaned between driving lessons and that triage was done before the lessons. No gloves or face protection measures are needed. Face-protective measures are required for practical exams.
Due to the limited capacity of both the theoretical and practical exams and the large increase in new students and the start of the motor season, the waiting times have risen to values that are much longer than usual. This causes problems at driving schools because candidates have fewer lessons or because there is still no theoretical exam to be taken. The problem is not over yet and we expect it to be reflected when everything is back to 100% and the majority of candidates are ready to take the exam and there are not enough exams. We expect this to continue well into 2021 when everything is back to normal and there is no second lockdown.
Due to the lockdown there is the risk of closing driving schools in the Netherlands?
At the moment we see few driving schools in trouble because of the lockdown because the government is rushing towards companies. Consider, for example, compensation for labor costs or deferral of payment of taxes. However, it is expected that this will only become clear after the summer.