Halfords To Host Practical Driving Tests
Practical driving tests will be available from branches of Halfords from next month, the Government has announced.
The first test centre will open at the firm's Wellingborough store on February 5, before the initiative is rolled out to branches across the country in the coming months.
All tests will be conducted by Driving Standards Agency (DSA) examiners.
The firm's director of communications, David Sawday, told Sky News the store offered learner drivers a "non-threatening environment to meet your examiner and start your test".
"All the people in the country are within a 20 minute drive of a Halford's store so we are a very accessible location," he added.
Other sites under consideration as future test centres include Glasgow, Altrincham, Market Harborough and Hemel Hempstead.
And the car parts and bicycle retailer may not be the only private sector company enlisted to help provide "a more local service for driving test candidates".
The DSA is looking at both the private and public sector, with fire stations and universities reportedly also in the running to host practical driving test centres.
Driving test wait times currently vary from between one week and almost three months, depending on the location.
The Government is currently consulting on proposals to improve the way all motoring services are delivered.
The Halfords deal, which has been in the pipeline since last summer, was finalised by Road Safety Minister Stephen Hammond.
He said: "We are very pleased to be working with Halfords to provide a more local service for candidates.
"This is a great example of working with private sector partners to provide an important local service that is convenient as well as being cost effective."
Paul McClenaghan, Halfords' commercial director, said: "Halfords is already a local destination for motorists, who come to us for a diverse range of automotive products and services.
"We're always seeking new ways in which to enhance our offer, so working with the Driving Standards Agency is a natural fit for the business and extends the help we are able to provide to motorists," he added.