The union which represents the country’s driving testers says it has reached agreement with the Road Safety Authority to establish a panel with up to 100 extra testers to meet a predicted surge in demand.
That surge is expected due to proposed new sanctions on car owners who allow their vehicles to be used by unaccompanied learner drivers.
Fórsa trade union has forecast that when the new measures in the amended Road Traffic Bill are implemented it could increase the average waiting time to as much as 55 weeks for a test unless extra testers are made available.
The union said that, after discussion with it, the RSA is to seek departmental sanction to establish the panel, with testers available to work in test centres around the country when the need arises.
Once enacted, the legislation will introduce fines of up to €2,000, or six months’ imprisonment, for motorists who allow their vehicles to be used by unaccompanied learner drivers. The bill will also allow the detention of vehicles illegally driven by learner drivers.
The union has also sought a much smaller number of extra driver testers to be employed on a permanent basis to cover increased ongoing demand for tests on foot of economic recovery.
Fórsa claimed the number of driver-testers has fallen by almost 20% since 2007: “As a result, average waiting times have risen to 14 weeks on foot of the economic recovery. This is four weeks more than the Road Safety Authority’s 10-week target, which was previously being met.”
Fórsa official, Ashley Connolly, called on the Department of Transport to sanction the creation of the panel without delay: “Fórsa supports the measures in the Road Traffic Bill because they will improve road safety. But we need to quickly put the necessary measures in place to prevent a huge backlog of driving tests and a potential trebling of waiting times.”
Ms Connolly said the union had also discussed other ways of reducing waiting times with the Road Safety Authority, and is willing to look at additional flexibility measures. “The number of driver testers has fallen from 126 in 2007 to only 102 today,” she said.
More than 80,000 candidates are currently waiting for tests.
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