DVLA fails to learn from its mistakes as website crashes again on day paper counterpart is abolished

10th June 2015

For the second time in 8 months, the DVLA website crashed, on the day a new ‘view your licence’ scheme came into effect as paper counterparts for driving licences were phased out.

It seems the DVLA failed to learn from its mistakes following the crash in October last year which was blamed on “unprecedented demand”. But yet again it neglected preparations for the launch of a new system and a very predictable increase in traffic on Monday of this week.

As paper counterparts are abolished, evidence of driving endorsements and convictions are only available from the DVLA website. Motorists are now required to log in to the site and access a code necessary for car hire in the UK and abroad. The code is only valid for three days, so it maybe necessary for many motorists to access the site on mobile devices while away from home.

As we reported last year there really is “no excuse” for sites to crash under these circumstances. It’s essential to perform testing of any new website functionality prior to launch and with modern technology it’s possible to scale websites to support traffic peaks as and when you need to, even for short periods of time. And following the last fiasco the DVLA have had plenty of time to reflect and put some more thorough and realistic Load Testing in place to prevent this situation.

Computerworld reported that statistics on the GOV.UK website showed a drop in availability from 99% to 80% and a rise in average page load time to a cracking 7.1 seconds from the normal 0.6 seconds – well below the recommended 2 second delivery time. A car hire firm in Bristol had a queue of 20 people, as staff struggled to access their details online.

User satisfaction with DVLA’s service dropped to 82% highlighting the knock on effect of poor website performance. Many complaints were evident on Twitter.

Preparing for peaks in website demand is commonplace nowadays. The DVLA could take a leaf out of the book of many UK online retailers who successfully manage this regularly. The site is expected to face similar demand at the start of the school holidays in July but will it be third time lucky for the DVLA website?