A severe shortage of driving testers is leading to long delays for applicants in the Cork and Kerry area.
New figures released show there are just 13 driving testers for the centres in Cork, Mallow, Skibbereen, and Killarney.
There are almost 11,000 people in total waiting for tests at the four centres.
Cork North West Fianna Fáil TD Aindrias Moynihan, who revealed the figures, called on Transport Minister Shane Ross to intervene to ease the imbalance which has led to lengthy waiting times for those seeking to sit their driving test.
The Road Safety Authority is aiming to have a national waiting time of no longer than 10 weeks.
In the Cork centre, the average test waiting time is 15.2 weeks with the longest standing at 19 weeks, almost double the target time. In Mallow, applicants wait an average of 17.4 weeks. In Skibbereen, it is 18.8 weeks, while Killarney’s average is 15 weeks.
There are just seven testers headquartered at the Cork test centre, while Mallow has just one permanent tester and 1,986 people waiting for a test.
Mr Moynihan said: “The fact of the matter is that there are simply not enough testers in Cork or across the country to cope with demand.
“In Cork City, there are 6,554 people waiting for a test and there are only seven testers based at the driving test centre. This is completely unacceptable.”
In her response to Mr Moynihan, Road Safety Authority chief executive Moyagh Murdock said steps are being taken to try and reduce wait times.
“In 2018, the Road Safety Authority recruited 52 driver testers and currently there are 14 driver testers undergoing training,” said Ms Murdock.
“In addition, it is planned to recruit eight driver testers in March 2019. Including the 14 driver testers currently being trained, there are 151 driver testers available for deployment and this provides an annual capacity of 260,000 driving tests.
“Despite an increase in applications for driving tests, linked to the Clancy amendment, there is a gradual reduction in waiting times at almost all test centres.
“With the additional resources available, as well as those coming on stream, waiting times will reduce at all test centres in the coming weeks.”
Two more testers will be headquartered in the Cork driving test centre from March 4 and testers will be rotated from those with shorter waiting times to ‘equalise’ waiting times, said Ms Murdock.
Mr Moynihan said that more needs to be done, and urged Transport Minister Shane Ross to intervene.
“The Road Safety Authority says it has recruited 52 new testers and has another 14 undergoing training, bringing to 151 the number of testers available across the country,” he said.
“However, most other counties are experiencing the same delays that we are here in Cork, so 151 will still fall far short of what’s needed.
“It is unacceptable that people are expected to wait for weeks on end for a driving test — particularly if they live in a rural area and have little or no access to public transport.
“Minister Ross must intervene and ensure that the waiting times are reduced dramatically.”