Covid-19 leaves 85,000 waiting for a driving test

Covid-19 leaves 85,000 waiting for a driving test

Driver testing was suspended in March as part of shutdown in services as the State struggled to come to terms with the scale of the challenge it faced.

More than 85,000 people are currently waiting for a driving test as the Covid-19 crisis wreaks havoc on waiting times.

It has emerged that the average wait for a test is now nearly eight months, up from six weeks on average in pre-crisis times.

Meanwhile, the Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan says there is “no quick and easy solution” to the problem.

Driver testing was suspended in March as part of shutdown in services as the State struggled to come to terms with the scale of the challenge it faced.

They were resumed for certain categories of vehicles on 29 June, and across the board from 20 July.

However, testers had only been carrying out five examinations per day up to September 14, when the figure was increased to six. 

Prior to lockdown examiners typically carried out eight tests each day on average.

Mr Ryan said that it is hoped to increase the average number of tests to seven per examiner per day in the near term, “subject as always to health and safety concerns”.

In reply to a parliamentary question from Cork Labour TD Sean Sherlock, the Road Safety Authority, the body with responsibility for the testing system, said that average waiting times nationally are now more than 30 weeks.

Some 85,140 people are now waiting for a test, with the greatest proportion, 21,296 people, stemming from the 20-24 years age group.

The RSA said it will resume publishing waiting lists by individual test centre later this week. 

“Over 85,000 are awaiting a test nationally. The key metric will be where the bulk of those delays are,” Mr Sherlock said. 

“Additional testing units and testers will be critical to clear such a backlog, whichever part of the country it is in.” 

Mr Ryan, in response to a query from Kildare TD Catherine Murphy, said: “My department has already approved the rehire of temporary testers whose contracts had expired and retention of contracted testers otherwise due to leave in the next two months."

“I should caution that there will be no quick or easy or solution to these difficulties. 

"The RSA has indicated that it is currently receiving more applications than capacity, and it will take time to get on top of and reduce the backlog.”

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