Plans for tackling waits for driving tests criticised

Unite says instructors shut out of facilities at test centres operated by Road Safety Authority

There are close to 100,000 learner drivers waiting for a driving test and 54,000 people waiting for a theory test. Photograph: PA Wire

There are close to 100,000 learner drivers waiting for a driving test and 54,000 people waiting for a theory test. Photograph: PA Wire

 

Official plans for reducing lengthy waiting lists for driving tests are too one-dimensional and will only invite further problems, driving instructors have said.

In an opening statement to the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Transport and Communications Networks ahead of a hearing today [Thursday], approved driving instructors said there were now 98,414 learners waiting for a driving test and 54,000 people waiting for a theory test.

Unite, which represents the driving instructors, said they were working in very difficult conditions to provide an essential service. It said there were no official industry-wide protocols to protect driving instructors from Covid-19 and that they had been shut out of facilities at test centres operated by the Road Safety Authority.

Unite regional officer Jean O’Dowd said the union’s members required adequate back-to-work grants as well as automatic permit renewal which would waive registration fees.

The chair of Unite’s approved driving instructors’ branch Dominic Brophy said test centres reopened in late June last year following the first Covid-19 lockdown.

He said the RSA had “emailed every approved driving instructor in the country to inform us that they had no industry-specific protocols to help us to protect ourselves, and because we are self-employed they would not be offering any in the future”.

He said the waiting list for tests was “a big problem” and that this should be resolved properly and sensibly in conjunction with approved driving instructors and their representatives.

“The RSA has stated that they will have 40 additional testers in June and that they hope to receive clearance for a further 40 some time after that. This would be a 58 per cent increase in the driving tester work force.”