Driving lessons for essential workers set to resume

Self declaration of essential worker status criticised by some driving instructors

The Road Safety Authority has announced it will recommence the series of 12 mandatory lessons for essential workers. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

The Road Safety Authority has announced it will recommence the series of 12 mandatory lessons for essential workers. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

 

The Unite Trade Union has clashed with the Road Safety Authority after the authority said it would allow driving test candidates to “self declare” if they were essential workers.

On Friday the Road Safety Authority announced it was to recommence the series of 12 mandatory lessons for essential workers which, when completed, would allow candidates to apply for driving tests. It said learners in the non-essential category would not be allowed take the series of 12 mandatory lessons.

But it said candidates would be allowed to “self declare” their essential worker status.

On Sunday the Unite Trade Union which represents about 100 approved driving instructors said the “ability of learner drivers to self-declare may undermine public health measures”.

It accused the Road Safety Authority of failing to consult approved instructors before introducing self-declaration.

Unite Regional Officer Jean O’Dowd said “once again, the Road Safety Authority has ignored driving instructors and unilaterally imposed a new system which is likely to prove unworkable and counter-productive.

“Allowing learner drivers to self-declare that they are essential workers in order to avail of driving lessons will inevitably result in a flood of such self-declarations, without any need for verification, and this would undermine public health restrictions,” she said.

She called on the Road Safety Authority “to withdraw this proposal and engage in a meaningful consultation with driving instructors to devise a system which will meet the needs of essential workers while ensuring that all public health measures are fully adhered to”.

However in response the RSA said it had consulted widely with its approved driving instructors and had received feedback from them which it had taken on board.

A spokesman for the authority said the consultation had taken place through a “stakeholders forum” which involves “98 per cent of our approved driving instructors”.

The spokesman said: “In planning for the resumption of essential driver training for essential workers we consulted with approved driving instructors through our stakeholders forum and received feedback which was incorporated into the final arrangements”.