Tuesday, 24 November 2020

Questions (240)

Martin Browne

Question:

240. Deputy Martin Browne asked the Minister for Transport his views on the cancelation of theory tests as part of the level 5 restrictions; and his plans to process the backlog as swiftly as possible once level 5 restrictions are lifted. [38169/20]

View answer

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.

As I am sure you are aware, the Theory Test service was temporarily suspended in March 2020 due to the Covid 19 emergency. When the service resumed in June, there was an increased level of demand and a significant backlog developed. This was coupled with the need to significantly reduce normal daily capacity to comply with occupational and public health requirements.

When the Driver Theory Test Service closed on the 21st of October due to the latest restrictions, the majority of testing centres had almost full bookings up to end December and some into January too as it worked its way through the initial backlog. The decision was taken by the service provider that those whose appointments were cancelled due to the latest restrictions would be 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 tests within the current health constraints for when services are resumed. This will help reduce and, over time, eliminate the backlog.

While I regret the inconvenience caused, public safety is of paramount importance. My officials and I are working hard to ensure the resumption of services as soon as level 5 is lifted.