Tuesday, 24 November 2020

Questions (254)

Kieran O'Donnell

Question:

254. Deputy Kieran O'Donnell asked the Minister for Transport the steps he is taking to ensure persons seeking to complete their driver theory test are not disadvantaged for an extended period due to the level 5 restrictions as in the case of a person (details supplied); if he will make arrangements for additional resources to be supplied to the RSA to clear the backlog once driver theory testing resumes to ensure applicants can receive a timely booking; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38781/20]

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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.

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.