Wednesday, 28 January 2004

Questions (68, 69, 70)

Michael Ring

Question:

166 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Transport his plans to address the driving test backlog; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2288/04]

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Breeda Moynihan-Cronin

Question:

167 Ms B. Moynihan-Cronin asked the Minister for Transport the number of applicants awaiting driving tests at the latest date for which figures are available; if he will give the current waiting time in each test centre; if he will outline the progress made to date in discussions with the Department of Finance on a package of measures to address the backlog of driving test applications; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2128/04]

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Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

168 Mr. J. O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Transport when he expects applicants for driving tests to be able to have their tests within a reasonable time; the current backlog and waiting time; and the estimated cost to applicants in the payment of additional insurance premia pending their obtaining full licences. [2106/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Transport)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 166 to 168, inclusive, together.

The number of applicants awaiting a driving test at 26 January 2004 is 119,569. Of these, 21,631 have been given test appointments and a further 13,226 have indicated that they are currently not available to be tested. The current average waiting time nationally for a driving test is 33 weeks. The current average waiting time at each test centre as at 26 January 2004 is set out in the following table.

The current waiting times are due to the unprecedented level of approximately 230,000 test applications received in 2003. This represents a 21% increase on 2002 applications. However, indications are that applications have now fallen to normally expected levels. The annual capacity of the driver testing service, inclusive of normal overtime, is in the region of 200,000 tests. I anticipate that the current waiting times will improve over the coming year.

Sanction for a bonus scheme for driver testers was obtained from the Department of Finance in May 2003. Under the terms of the scheme set out by the Department of Finance, the bonus scheme terminated in November 2003. In addition to the bonus scheme, eight retired driver testers were re-employed with effect from 13 October 2003. Driver testers continue to deliver additional tests by working overtime on Saturdays and at lunchtime.

Preparation of legislation to establish the driver testing and standards authority, which will take on responsibility for conducting driving tests and will have more flexibility to respond to variations in demand, is at an advanced stage.

The cost and availability of insurance is a matter for the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment.

Centre

Average Weeks Waiting

Centre

Average Weeks Waiting

North Leinster

South East

Finglas

33

Carlow

33

Dundalk

38

Clonmel

46

Mullingar

28

Dungarvan

44

Navan

41

Kilkenny

35

Raheny

36

Nenagh

45

South Leinster

Portlaoise

34

Churchtown/Rathgar

35

Thurles

38

Gorey

46

Tipperary

44

Naas

33

Waterford

35

Tullamore

37

Wexford

35

Wicklow

46

South West

Tallaght

43

Cork

36

West

Killarney

40

Athlone

6

Kilrush

25

Birr

30

Limerick

33

Castlebar

39

Mallow

34

Clifden

15

Newcastle West

34

Ennis

15

Shannon

40

Galway

31

Skibbereen

33

Loughrea

18

Tralee

35

Roscommon

22

Tuam

28

North West

Ballina

35

Buncrana

17

Carrick-on-Shannon

40

Cavan

44

Donegal

29

Letterkenny

23

Longford

26

Monaghan

39

Sligo

25

Note: The average waiting time is derived having regard to waiting times experienced by individual applicants who have undergone a driving test over the previous four week period in the test centre.

Question No. 169 answered with QuestionNo. 142.
Question No. 170 answered with QuestionNo. 129.