Road safety chief hits out at driving tests backlog

The backlog for driving tests must be reduced from one year to six weeks, a national road safety tzar warned today.

Fine Gael claims 425,000 L-drivers are clogging up the nation’s roads because of the 53-week delay in processing applications.

Noel Brett, Acting chief of the new Road Safety Authority, which replaces the National Safety Council, today said he envisaged a future application system where applicants could book a date that suited themselves online .

Mr Brett also told the Oireachtas Transport Committee that the average waiting time should be no more than six weeks.

“It is not acceptable, that people are ready and prepared and they can’t do it,” he said.

Mr Brett, 37, also suggested that transition year secondary students should be able to sit driving theory tests.

Centres of excellence to promote Irish-based research should be set up in partnership with third-level institutions, he advised.

The acting CEO also said that using driver simulators, like those used by trainee airline pilots, should be considered to improve the quality of driver training in Ireland.

“I don’t think it’s a substitute for the practical driving test, but it could be used to refresh skills for older drivers or incentivised by insurance firms.”

Mr Brett said statistics showing that 50% of school pupils don’t use rear seatbelts were depressing.

“These are the motorists of tomorrow, and if they’re not getting it at primary school level, it’s hard to bolt it on later.

“I would hope that driving is taught and ingrained from day one, as a life skill for students as citizens and as road users.

“It is important that we form the right attitudes in early years and maintain them later in life.”

The new Road Safety Authority will in future be responsible for driver education, road safety promotion, driver testing and licensing, a driving instructor register, vehicle standards, road haulage and road safety research.

The Authority has received funding of €5.5m for 2006 and also hopes to secure sponsorship for specific projects from the Irish Insurance Federation.

Mr Brett was previously chief of the Driver Testing and Standards Authority.


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