Sinn Féin TD for Dublin South West Seán Crowe has called for a range of new measures to be introduced to deal with the massive driving test and lessons backlog that has built up as a result of the pandemic.
Teachta Crowe highlighted the fact that Tallaght is consistently at the top of the pile when it comes to the largest waiting list and that there are currently 10,000 people waiting for a test in the area. That’s over 10% of the total applicants from across the state.
Teachta Crowe said:
“The driving test system has been thrown into chaos as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, but a lack of action from the Transport Minister Eamon Ryan has made a bad situation worse.
“Changes must be introduced without delay to take the pressure off the system and ensure people can obtain their driving licence in a reasonable time over the coming months.
“The latest figures we have show 98,414 people are waiting to sit their driving test, while another 79,276 people are waiting to sit the Driver Theory Test whenever it resumes.
“There are almost 10,000 of those waiting in Tallaght alone, by far the highest figure of any area in the state.
“These unacceptable figures could see applicants waiting up to seven months for a test if they are not addressed urgently.
“Sinn Féin have brought forward a range of new proposals that we believe will help solve this escalating problem.
“Last October, the RSA sought permission to hire an additional 80 testers. Unfortunately, only 40 were approved but they are still not in place. This huge backlog highlights the need for the extra staff and needs to be authorised by the Department of Transport and the Minister without further delay.
“The RSA also needs to operate longer opening hours and permit more tests per day to be carried out when tests resume.
“Regarding the Driver Theory Test waiting list, we believe this exam should now be put online, allowing people to sit the test remotely.
“The Driver Theory Test Service are currently providing remote theory tests for bus, truck, CPC and ADI categories. This is a welcome development, but it is essential this is now extended to those learning to drive a car.
“Even though essential workers are permitted to sit their driving test during Level 5, they are not permitted to take lessons, apart from one pre-test lesson. This needs to be addressed and a more realistic approach adopted.
“We need change in this whole area as the current policy is preventing essential workers getting their licences and getting to work, mainly due to the current policy that means you cannot sit a driving test without first completing 12 mandatory EDT lessons.
“Essential workers should be permitted to take lessons during Level 5 with additional precautions so they can sit their test.
“Approved Driving Instructors (ADIs) should be provided with high-grade PPE to keep them safe at work. We have sought clarification as to where they are on the vaccination roll-out list, as they have remained at work throughout and can be in close contact with others in confined spaces.
“ADIs have been treated very poorly by the RSA and the Department during this time, finding themselves locked out of testing centres over the winter months.
“This has meant in reality that ADIs have no access to basic toilet facilities, shelter, warmth or sanitisation facilities while at work.
“The Minister must engage with ADIs, testers and their unions to address these legitimate concerns. These workers must also be centrally involved in preparing a roadmap out of the current challenges that face the industry and those applicants seeking a driving licence.”