New online driver theory test ‘only an interim move’, says RSA

Authority responds after Jackie Healy Rae describes new test as ‘restrictive and ridiculous’

Jackie Healy-Rae said the new system would only allow people to access the system via Windows computers, not on phones, tablets, Mac machines or the older Windows 7. File photograph: Alan Betson

Jackie Healy-Rae said the new system would only allow people to access the system via Windows computers, not on phones, tablets, Mac machines or the older Windows 7. File photograph: Alan Betson

 

The new online driver theory test is “an interim solution” until an upgraded, online version is put in place, the Road Safety Authority has said.

The authority was responding after Kerry county councillor Jackie Healy Rae described the new test as “restrictive and ridiculous” .

Mr Healy-Rae said some people who logged onto the new online portal were offered waiting times “as long as two years for a date to sit the test”.

“The wait for a new system took long enough but now people are faced with a number of obstacles” he said.

He said the new system would only allow people to access the test via Windows computers, not on phones, tablets, Mac machines or the older Windows 7.

“Applicants need a 1024 x 768 minimum screen resolution, operate Windows 8.1 or higher, which rules out iPad/Android tablets and a minimum internet connection speed of 0.5 mbps or greater to access the test” he said.

“Currently there is a waitlist of 101,000 people hoping to sit a driving test and a further 105,000 people waiting to sit their theory test with young people from all over the country at the back of these queues”.

“In many cases young people need a full driving licence for work and with the economy slowly reopening it is vital that young people get every opportunity to return to work” he said.

“In rural Ireland people can’t take to Luas to work and can’t be expected to keep asking their parents for lifts ,” he added.

‘Temporary solution’

However the Road Safety Authority said the system had been designed “to help meet some of the demand from customers looking for a theory test appointment”.

A spokesman said the new online test was “a temporary solution and we plan to roll out an upgraded online offering later in the year”. The spokesman said the replacement online test would significantly increase capacity.

He said the new test would be available across multiple platforms and when the physical testing centres are allowed to reopen “we will be able to add additional capacity and ramp up our service to deliver 50,000 tests per month, up from pre-Covid level of 15,000.”

On the issue of Windows 7 he said it was critical that the testing environment be secure and protected. Therefore, he said a reasonable broadband speed was required, and that was 5mbps, not 0.5mbps. He acknowledged a key software component which is required for the online testing software was not currently supported by Apple Mac devices. But he added the exam will be available for Apple Mac devices in the next phase of the project later this year.