Lengthy waiting lists for the driving theory test could be eliminated if the road safety module offered to secondary schools becomes mandatory for transition year students, it has been claimed.
There are more than 100,000 people waiting on the theory test, according to Fianna Fáil Senator Diarmuid Wilson.
He suggested that if every transition year class was taught the module designed by the National Council for Curriculum Assessment in conjunction with the Road Safety Authority, schools could become designated driving theory test centres.
“There’s no reason the Department of Education and the RSA can’t co-operate. And that would cut most of the waiting list because the majority of the list are young people.”
Anyone seeking a driving test must first pass a driving theory test and undertake a minimum of 12 driving lessons before they can do a driving test.
Mr Wilson spent nearly 30 years as the manager of the youth reach training centre in Cavan for early school leavers.
“When the theory test came into being, we started doing a module on road safety and we got the training disc from the Road Safety Authority. You can practise the theory test and when the young people went to do their test, there was almost a 100 per cent success rate.”
He said there had been a very low uptake of the module offered to schools even though 70 per cent of students undertake transition year.
When he raised the issue in the Seanad, Minister of State for Education Josepha Madigan said there were "no plans to introduce mandatory driver education classes at post-primary level".
But she noted the optional transition year programme included comprehensive road safety education and provided for visiting speakers, trips out of school, projects and case studies. “Relevant driver theory test learning is included at the end of each module,” she added.
The RSA declined to comment when asked about the proposal to makes its programme mandatory for transition year students. It also did not provide an overall figure of the number of people waiting for a driving theory test.
“During the seven weeks up to 19th July, 55,570 theory tests were scheduled to take place across both the test centres and online testing service; 42,912 tests were taken and, out of those, 33,359 passed. It is worth noting that one in six candidates are failing to show up for their driver theory test.”
The authority also said it “reopened its full network of 40 test centres with a maximum monthly capacity of 25,000 tests initially, with volumes permitted to increase to 50,000 in time as public health guidance allows”.
“The RSA also recently extended its pilot scheme for online driver theory testing to cars and bikes and up to 10,000 such tests are now available each month.”