Driving test backlog could be cleared in four months - Minister

Estimated 120,000 learners waiting for theory tests and 72,000 for driving test

Not  a single case of transmission of Covid-19 has been reported from the driver  testing service. Photograph: Getty Images

Not a single case of transmission of Covid-19 has been reported from the driver testing service. Photograph: Getty Images

 

The current driving test and theory test waiting lists could be cleared within four months as restrictions ease, Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan has said.

A total of 72,000 learner drivers are waiting for driving tests and there is an estimated backlog of 120,000 theory tests.

By the end of this month 29,000 of the theory tests will have been dealt with, including 4,000 online as part of a pilot testing programme, figures from the Minister show.

Next month, online theory testing capacity will increase to 6,000 and the Road Safety Authority (RSA) is working to reach a target of 50,000 theory tests a month, Mr Ryan said.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, tests were conducted only for essential workers, and over the past 16 months a total of 52,569 driving tests were completed.

Mr Ryan said essential workers will continue to be a priority but the RSA is increasing the number of examiners from 140, including 100 permanent testers to 180 who will be in place by the end of June. The authority has also received approval to hire another 40 testers.

Testing centres re-opened on June 7th and the authority hopes that examiners will increase the number of driving tests they conduct every day from six to seven and increase operating hours when restrictions are fully lifted.

This, along with the completion of training for 40 new examiners, will allow for 4,881 tests a week. “With 4,881 tests weekly, it should be possible to clear that backlog in 15 weeks, allowing for those testers doing seven tests per day,” Mr Ryan said.

Fine Gael TD Brendan Griffin, who raised the issue in parliamentary questions, said more could be done, particularly in respect of online theory tests. He was concerned about some “current technology requirements and the broadband requirements because in many areas broadband is simply not yet up to scratch and is not suitable for the tests”.

The Kerry TD said every deputy’s office was inundated with callers waiting for tests and it was a “crucial part of living in the more isolated parts of the country. If you can’t drive a car, it’s difficult to live any sort of a normal life and to get on with your day-to-day business.”

Mr Ryan said “no resources are being spared” in a bid to complete theory tests in person and online and to provide more driving tests. “We recognise it is important for young people,” he said. “It’s obviously clearly dependent on what happens in respect of Covid but the fact that we have not had a single case of transmission from our testing service should give us confidence that we will be able to do this.”