Ross’s claim average driving test waiting time 12 weeks ‘laughable’ – FF
Fianna Fáil says RSA target waiting time ‘far from reality’ in most test centres
Fianna Fáil TD Robert Troy said it was particularly difficult for people in rural areas where there was little public transport. Photograph: iStock
Minister for Transport Shane Ross has said the average waiting time for driving tests is now 12 weeks and moving closer to the 10-week target, but Fianna Fáil dismissed this claim as “laughable”.
Fianna Fáil transport spokesman Robert Troy said that while the Road Safety Authority (RSA) target was a waiting time of no more than 10 weeks it was “far from the reality in most test centres” and there was a waiting time of 24 weeks in some areas.
He said the Minister had pledged to tackle the waiting times when the Clancy Amendment became law, which made it an offence for the owner of a vehicle to knowingly allow an unaccompanied learner to drive their vehicle.
The measure was named after mother and daughter Geraldine and Louise Clancy, who died in a collision with an unaccompanied learner driver in December 2015.
The Fianna Fáil TD said it was particularly difficult for people in rural areas where there was little public transport.
Mr Ross said however that people who need a driving licence quickly are being facilitated and the RSA has introduced emergency slots to accommodate such drivers.
The Minister acknowledged that some waiting times remain high but he said that as of February 4th the average waiting time was 12 weeks.
When Mr Troy said it was “laughable” to claim improvements in waiting times, the Minister replied that it was “absurd” to say they had not tackled waiting times.
He pointed out that there were currently less than 150 full-time equivalent driving test examiners in the State with an annual capacity of 260,000 driving tests. Last year the Road Safety Authority (RSA) recruited 52 testers and 14 others are in training and eight more drivers will be recruited in March.
The Minister said that in some test centres including Carrick-on-Shannon, Co Leitrim, Dún Laoghaire, Deansgrange and Mulhuddart in Dublin and Wexford the waiting time was down to six weeks.
But the longest average waiting time was in Newcastle West, Co Limerick at “just over 24 weeks”. However Mr Ross pointed out that an applicant can apply for a driving test at any centre around the country.
The Minister said that in Mr Troy’s home area of Athlone there was an average wait of 8.7 weeks and the longest waiting time was nine weeks while in Longford the average waiting time was 10.9 weeks and 12 weeks in Mullingar.
But the Fianna Fáil spokesman retorted that “unlike the Minister I do not concentrate my efforts on my constituency. The problem is across Ireland.”
He said he was aware that the Minister “concentrates on your own constituency” and he noted that in Churchtown in Mr Ross’s Dublin Rathdown constituency the longest waiting time last year was 26 weeks although he acknowledged it had been reduced to 15.1 weeks.
“The average waiting time in Cork is 17.9 weeks, with a longest waiting time of 24 weeks. In Mallow the average waiting time is 19.2 weeks while in Skibbereen it is 20.2 weeks.”
Mr Ross said the RSA continued to make improvements and he hoped Mr Troy would acknowledge that.