Waiting times for driving tests in Cork are costing families of learner drivers a great deal of money because under newly-introduced legislation they are not allowed to drive on their own.
As a result, many families are being forced to spend money renting digs for them in large towns and Cork city for lengthy periods because they may have to wait up to 27 weeks to sit a test.
Minister for Transport, Shane Ross, came in for criticism at a county council meeting when councillors rounded on him for introducing the Road Traffic (Amendment) Act 2018 without beefing up the number of driving testers to ease the backlog.
Cllr John Paul O'Shea won unanimous support when he tabled a motion that councillors write to Mr Ross urging him to implement a maximum waiting time of eight weeks for a test appointment: "The current waiting times for driving tests range from eight to 27 weeks across the country, which is unacceptable. There is an average waiting time in all the test centres of 18 weeks. It's putting huge pressure on young people."
Cllr Melissa Mullane agreed with him and said that the new regulations governing provisional licence-holders are very harsh: "I think that any L driver who has applied for a test should be omitted from those regulations. It's becoming far harder for young people to go to college or go to work."
Cllr Bob Ryan said the minister has "no realisation or care for people living in rural areas".
He said he knows of an apprentice who works a long way from home and his family are forced to pay digs for him because he can't drive on his own: "You can't expect them to wait for months to get a test. The minister has no realisation of what happens outside of D4."
Cllr Gobnait Moynihan said the average waiting time for a test in Skibbereen is 19 weeks and 13 weeks in Mallow.
Cllr Kevin Conway said he believes the Government could get around the issue by allowing driving instructors issue competency notes to experienced pupils.
During his summing up of his motion Cllr O'Shea agreed with the thrust of what Cllr Conway has proposed: "You have cases where people are having to wait up to half a year after applying for their driving test before they actually take it. These people have passed their theory test, they have completed their 12 compulsory driving lessons, and yet they have to wait far too long to take their test."
More in tomorrow's print edition