Thursday, 6 May 2021

Questions (38)

Seán Sherlock

Question:

38. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Transport the measures on foot of the announcements made on 29 April 2021 that are being introduced to allow driver testing and driver lessons along with theory testing. [23520/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

As the Covid-19 restrictions are gradually eased, driving tests for essential workers will continue. Driving tests will also gradually recommence for those who are eligible to take the test, with those waiting longest being contacted first. First invitations will be issued later this month.

The RSA and the Department plan to reduce the waiting times and backlog of those waiting for driving tests as quickly as possible. In addition to recently recruiting 40 temporary testers, the RSA is looking to increase the number of tests to 7 per tester per day as well as extending operating hours when restrictions are lifted.

Under Level 5 Restrictions, no Essential Driving Training (EDT) sessions were permitted. However, EDT will now recommence for essential workers and for those who had not completed their EDT before the restrictions came into place. EDT will also commence for motorcyclists.

The Driver Theory Test is considered a non-essential service and remains closed. Because the service was closed for long periods of time over the last year, a large backlog of customers has built up. We recognise that it will take time to meet this demand and restore pre-COVID-19 waiting times when the service does reopen.

In response to this, the RSA will introduce an increase in capacity within the service when it is allowed to re-open. This additional capacity will see the number of tests increase from an average pre Covid19 output of 15,000 tests per month to 50,000 per month when the service resumes. This will help significantly to tackle the backlog of customers waiting for a driver theory test and shorten waiting times.

A pilot online driver theory test is underway for trucks and buses. This will be extended to car drivers later this month, initially with 3,200 tests being available per month. Online services will be made more widely available towards the end of 2021.