Learner drivers waiting for a test in Dublin, Cork or Kildare could be facing the longest wait for their tests.
Due to the Covid-19 shutdown, tests have not been taking place in recent months, with the wait time now estimated to be 25 weeks.
More than 100,000 learner drivers are waiting for their tests, including a combined 10,000 in the four Cork test centres.
New figures released to Cork TD Sean Sherlock show that Tallaght is the worst hit centre in the country, with 10,449 waiting for a test appointment.
Two test centres in Dublin top the list, with 7,427 people waiting for a test appointment in Finglas.
Wilton, in Cork, completes the top three, with 5,845 people in the queue, with a further 2,020 waiting for a slot at Mallow, 1,026 in Ballincollig, and 1,104 in Skibbereen.
The five test centres with the longest waiting lists are:
- Dublin (Tallaght) - 10,449
- Dublin (Finglas) - 7,427
- Cork (Wilton) - 5,845
- Dublin (Dún Laoghaire/Desansgrange) - 5,603
- Kildare (Naas) - 4,945
Only two test centres – Clifton in Galway (284) and Kilrush in Clare (299) - have fewer than 300 people waiting for a test.
More than 100,000 learner drivers are waiting for a test, with Covid-19 restrictions playing havoc with waiting times. Of the 101,352 people waiting for a test, only 5,434 are scheduled.
At present, only essential workers are eligible to sit a driving test. In a letter to Mr Sherlock, the director of Driving Testing and Licensing said the wait time for a test is almost half a year.
“As we are only testing essential workers at present it is not possible to set out wait times by test centre.
“However, at a national level a person applying today would be likely to wait an average of 25 weeks for a driving test,” said Declan Naughton.
More than 30% of those waiting for a test are in Dublin, with 31,277 people waiting for a test in the areas five test centres. In Cork’s four test centres, 9,995 people are waiting for a test.
Young people are the most affected by the backlog with more than 38% of people on the waiting list being aged between 21 and 30.
There are 18,636 people under the age of 20 waiting for tests with 24,181 people aged between 31 and 40 on the list. Just under 19% of people on the waiting list are aged 41 or older.
As many as 20 ‘pop-up’ testing centres are being considered to tackle the backlog and Mr Sherlock said that the new data will be vital.
He said that the new figures should determine where any pop-up centres are set up.
“It’s clear from these latest figures where the pinch points for driving tests are,” he said.
“However in determining the extra 20 pop-up centres, due consideration should be given to areas where public transport has been slashed on capacity due to the pandemic.
“We have to ensure that those young people who are awaiting driving tests and do not have public transport nearby are prioritised.
“We need confirmation on where those testing sites are. I have written again to the Minister on this.”