A record number of learner drivers in the UK are hiring lookalikes in an effort to cheat on their driving tests, according to new government data.
Between April and December last year, the government reported that nearly 700 drivers had been caught enlisting the help of doppelgangers to pass their tests, compared to 554 in 2013.
According to the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), candidates have been hiring impersonators to sit not only practical tests, but the theory tests as well.
The DVSA suspects that learner drivers unable to pass the test themselves are increasingly turning to criminal gangs and forking out up to £1,800 to hire stand-ins to sit the assessments on their behalf.
Alastair Peoples, chief executive of the DVSA, said: “Driving test fraud is a serious offence and is dealt with accordingly.
“We have stringent measures in place to detect fraudulent activity and work closely with the police to bring all offenders to justice.”
According to the motoring agency, the problem stems from driving examiners not receiving training on how to properly study an applicant’s facial features to ensure they’re the person they claim to be.
Recently, the DVSA also launched an investigation to root out corruption among driving examiners and language interpreters, meaning that the test can now be taken in English and Welsh only.
The body states that the 677 people caught in total include the impersonators themselves, alongside the fraudulent learner drivers and any others implicated in scams, including corrupt examiners.
Mark Peacock, head of the BSM driving school said that along with cheating the test, fraudsters are also putting both themselves and other road users in danger by driving cars without a test.
He said: “The process of learning to drive and taking the test can seem a lot to take on, but it is nothing compared to someone faking a test pass and then attempting to teach themselves once they have passed their test. The test is there for a reason.”
The DVSA has recently been attempting to clamp down on fraud after having warned learner drivers against illegitimate scam sites that charge extra for booking their driving tests.
Currently, the cost of a driving test sits at £25 for the theory test and £62 for the practical test, though the DVSA reports that these figures can be grossly inflated by counterfeit websites.
With the average cost of getting on the road for the first time rising to nearly £7,000, the last thing learner drivers need is to shell out more than they should for fraudulent tests.
Luckily, Perrys offers a full range of new and used cars with competitive finance options, meaning that finding the ideal first car at the right price is one less concern to tick off of learners’ lists.