Tuesday, 24 November 2020

Questions (210)

John Lahart


210. Deputy John Lahart asked the Minister for Transport the measures being put in place to deal with the backlog of driver theory test and driver tests as a result of Covid-19; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37757/20]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

The Driver Theory Test has not been deemed to be an essential service under Level 5. As a consequence, the service is closed, effective from midnight on Wednesday 21st of October, and for the duration of Level 5 restrictions. All appointments during that time have been rescheduled to the next available appointment date.

The Road Safety Authority has advised my office that it is engaging with its service provider to examine ways of increasing the number of theory tests within the current health constraints for when services are resumed. They will be opening on additional days (at some centres) and extended hours will also be provided to allow additional capacity for appointments. This will help reduce and, over time, eliminate the backlog.

As you are aware, the driving test service was temporarily suspended due to the Covid 19 emergency and since resuming operations, there has been an increased level of demand. During the level 5 period, driving tests will be available only to those who are involved in essential services, including essential retail work.

While the service is limited during Level 5 restrictions, the Road Safety Authority is examining ways of increasing the number of tests within health constraints with an eye to resuming wider testing after Level 5, and is working in close consultation with my Department on this matter.

My Department has recently approved the retention by the RSA of 18 temporary driver testers whose contracts were due to expire in October and November, and the RSA has also rehired a further 18 temporary testers whose contracts expired in May. This will help to increase testing capacity when services resume. In the longer term the Department is considering proposals by the RSA for further measures to address the backlog.