Wednesday, 17 February 2021

Questions (107)

Paul Kehoe


107. Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Transport the plans in place to manage the backlog of theory and driver tests that have built up as a result of Covid-19 restrictions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8682/21]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

The Driver Theory Test (DTT) has not been classified as an essential service and consequently it has been suspended in light of Level 5 Covid-19 restrictions.

The Road Safety Authority has advised my office that it is engaging with its service provider to maximise capacity to offer tests while adhering to occupational and public health requirements for when services are resumed. In this regard, they would, for example, be opening on additional days at some centres and extended hours also provided to allow additional capacity for appointments.

The RSA are also examining offering theory tests in an online capacity for cars and motorcycles, but this planning is at a very early stage and is not expected to come on stream in the immediate future.

Covid-19 has also had a profound effect on the delivery of the Road Safety Authority’s driver testing services and a significant backlog has developed. During Level 5, driving tests are only available to those involved in essential services.

Sanction has recently been provided to hire 40 additional temporary driver testers, along with 36 approved for retention or rehire in 2020. The position will be kept under review when services resume.

These measures will help to increase testing capacity. However, I would like to stress, that many of the issues impacting on the delivery of service are concerned with the throughput of centres themselves in light of the restrictions, rather than on the availability of staff.

The RSA are also looking at a number of other measures, including whether the number of tests a driver tester can perform each day can be increased when restrictions ease, subject to health assurances.

While I regret the inconvenience caused by the necessity to adhere to the restrictions, the safety of the public must be of paramount importance.