Almost 60,000 on ‘unacceptable’ waiting list for driving test
Sinn Féin TD calls on RSA to explain ‘ineffectiveness’ in recruiting new testers
New figures show that of 77,419 applications to the Road Safety Authority for driving tests 39,162 are waiting to be given a date for their test. Photograph: Matt Kavanagh
Almost 60,000 people are currently on waiting lists to do a driving test , it has emerged.
The longest waiting list is in Dublin where 21,588 people have yet to do a test, followed by Cork with 8,474 on its list.
Sinn Féin transport spokeswoman Imelda Munster said there was an unacceptably large backlog. “This situation has been ongoing for a long time. It beggars belief that it has not been remedied to date.”
Retirement of driving testers are contributing to the backlog, the Road Safety Authority (RSA) said.
New figures show that of 77,419 applications to the RSA for driving tests 39,162 are waiting to be given a date for their test. A further 20,062 are waiting for a scheduled appointment with their local test centre and 18,195 are not available for the test either because they have not completed their essential driver training – a required minimum of 12 one-hour lessons with an approved driving instructor – or they have not had their learner permit for the mandatory minimum of six months.
Minister for Transport Shane Ross has previously said that the number of people applying for tests had risen by 20 per cent over the past four years. He pointed out that 1,000 tests a week were being cancelled and those appointments times were being offered to others.
RSA chief executive Moyagh Murdock told Ms Munster in reply to a parliamentary question that there was an increase in waiting times over the past 18 months because of sustained applications alongside retirements from the driver testing service.
“Twenty-three driver testers have been recruited since late 2016, yet the waiting list is still unacceptably long,” Ms Munster said. Of the 23 driver testers recruited, eight started testing this month.
She called for a second test centre to be established in Louth, where 2,514 people have applied for or are waiting for a test. The shortest list is in Longford, with 604 people, followed by Leitrim with 607.
Ms Murdock said the RSA “monitors waiting times closely and is constantly reviewing and adjusting the deployment of driver testers to meet demand as much as possible at the centres where the need is greatest”.
Commuter counties such as Meath and Wicklow have 2,584 and 1,335 people respectively on a list. Galway city has 3,774 people on a list, while Waterford city has 3,142.
Ms Munster said that in her constituency, “given the long waiting times in the county it is high time that the RSA reconsidered locating a test centre in Drogheda, a proposal that they have previously rejected”.
“The figures released this week show that a second test centre is needed in order to clear the backlog and prevent this situation coming about again in the future,” she added.
She said the RSA needed to explain the ineffectiveness of the last two years of recruitment of new testers. Ms Munster added that she believed legislation giving gardaí powers to seize vehicles driven by unaccompanied learners, which has been passed by the Dáil and is due in the Seanad, is putting pressure on learners to get their licence and is affecting the waiting lists.
DRIVING TEST APPLICATIONS: