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Driver Test

Dáil Éireann Debate, Thursday - 4 November 2021

Thursday, 4 November 2021

Questions (158)

Ruairí Ó Murchú


158. Deputy Ruairí Ó Murchú asked the Minister for Transport the status of the driver test including theory; the delays in relation to same; the actions taken to mitigate these delays; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53701/21]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

Covid-19 has had on profound effect on the delivery of the Road Safety Authority’s driver theory testing and driver testing services.

Theory tests were first suspended due to COVID 19 in March 2020. The service resumed, on a gradual basis, in mid-June 2020. However, driver theory tests were not deemed an essential service under Level 5. As a consequence, the service was closed from late December 2020 until 08 June 2021. When operations resumed, there was inevitably an increased level of demand due to the backlog.

To deal with the backlogs, capacity has been significantly increased. Prior to Covid, an average of 10,000 to 5,000 theory tests were conducted per month. Currently 25,000 to 50,000 tests are being provided per month and significant inroads have been made to clear the backlog. There is now spare capacity in the system to meet demand.

The RSA has also been working to extend its online theory testing service to have up to 10,000 online theory tests available for all categories of vehicles per month. These tests are available on a first-come-first-served basis.

Due to the suspension of driver testing services in the initial pandemic response, along with the health protocols required since the resumption of services, services are operating below normal capacity and a significant backlog has developed.

In line with the gradual reopening of services this summer, driving tests for all those who are eligible to take the test and have been waiting longest have now recommenced. Critical frontline workers continue to be the prioritised. The service continues to operate under restrictions in the interest of making it a safe environment while there is an ongoing presence of Covid.

When the service resumed in June 2020, testers were conducting five tests each per day. Since 27 September 2021, this has been increased to seven tests per tester per day.

In order to deal with the backlog, the RSA received sanction to hire 40 new temporary testers, in addition to 36 they were sanctioned to retain or rehire in 2020. These new testers have completed their training and are now conducting live tests since July 2021. Sanction has also been granted to recruit a further 40 testers. An extra 10 temporary test centres have been opened and a further 9 locations have been expanded within the existing premises, to accommodate more testers.

The volume of tests being offered weekly continues to grow and for the past 4 weeks the average increased to 4098 tests being offered per week. It is important to note that there is still a significant no show rate at 3.7% on average over the last four weeks, where people who booked a test do not turn up to take the test.