Covid-19 Pandemic Impacts DVA Enforcement Across Northern Ireland

It has been revealed that DVA enforcement activities across Northern Ireland have been severely impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

That’s one of the key points from the recently published ‘Driver, Vehicle, Operator, and Enforcement Statistics 2020-21 Quarter Two’ report, containing statistics for July to September 2020, from the DVA Statistics Branch of the Department for Infrastructure (DfI).

Due to various measures introduced because of COVID-19, DVA enforcement activities were again extremely constrained during the quarter, says the report.  Accordingly, only 310 vehicles were spot-checked, approximately a quarter of the usual volume checked.”

The report also reveals that with vehicle testing having resumed in stages throughout the quarter, beginning with priority vehicle groups in July, and extending to further categories in September, DVA conducted approximately 22,800 vehicle tests during quarter one, roughly 8% of the usual volume.  Whilst the pass-rate for full tests increased to 83.6%, this was mainly due to the mix of vehicles tested being substantially different to normal.

Vehicle Licensing

DVLA registered just over 4,600 new vehicles in Northern Ireland during April to June 2020.  This is 72.3% lower than the figure recorded for the same period in 2019 and the lowest quarter-one total in our time series.  The most popular new private-car was Volkswagen (10%); with grey the most popular colour (21%) and petrol the most popular fuel-type (57%).

There were 1,200,000 vehicles licensed in Northern Ireland at 30 June 2020, a decrease of 0.1% compared with March 2020.  The overwhelming majority (83%) were cars.

Driver Theory Tests

Theory testing resumed post-lockdown on 6 July.  Between July and September 2020, the DVA conducted just under 14,900 theory tests, approximately 80% of the usual volume.  The pass-rate for private-car theory tests was 56.0%, an increase of 8.6 percentage points on the pre-pandemic quarter-four pass-rate.

Driver Practical Tests

Driver testing resumed in stages throughout the quarter: motorcycles in July, cars and large goods vehicles in September.  As such, the DVA conducted 3,400 driver tests during the quarter, approximately a quarter of the usual volume.  The pass-rate for private-car driver tests was 68.1%, up by 9.2 percentage points on the pre-pandemic quarter-four pass-rate.

 Driver Licensing

Between July and September 2020, the DVA carried out 57,300 licensing transactions, down 16.7% on the corresponding period in 2019.  The number of provisional licenses issued during the quarter was a third higher than 2019, and was the highest quarterly total in our time series.

At the 30 September 2020, there were approximately 1,096,000 full and eligible licence holders with private-cars / light vans entitlement.  This was a decrease of 1.4% compared with the previous quarterly total.

 Road Transport Licensing

At the 30 September 2020, there were just under 9,050 licensed taxi drivers, down by 9.1% when compared with the same point of 2019, and the lowest figure in our series.  However, the number of licensed taxi vehicles increased by 2.7% to 9,000, when compared to the record low reported in March 2020.

DVA Target Performance Monitoring

For the 12-month period up to the end of September 2020, Agency performance against both the vehicle testing and driver testing performance measures was below the target level of 92%.  Vehicle testing was up 8.2 percentage points, to 77.4%.  Similarly, driver testing was up by 9.6 percentage points, to 87.0%.

For driver licensing, for the 12-months to the end of September 2020, online application performance was 97.8% processed within five days, whilst paper application performance was 84.9% processed within ten days, both against a target of 95%.

The publication is available on the DfI website at: