1 Apr 2021, 08.36

The Joint Committee on Transport and Communications Networks has written to Eamon Ryan TD, Minister for Transport, regarding the impact of Covid-19 on driving testing and driving instructors.

The letter outlines the Committee’s recommendations following its engagements on the impact of Covid-19 on driving testing and driving instructors. The recently completed hearings examined the impact of Covid-19 on driving testing and approved driving instructors (ADIs).

There are currently 99,636 people waiting to sit their driving tests. This number includes 5,262 who have been scheduled for an appointment, 61,635 were waiting for an appointment, and 32,739 who are currently ineligible for a test, mostly due to not having completed the mandatory 12 hours EDT. This is in addition to the approximately 80,000 waiting on a driving theory test.

The letter follows the Committee’s hearings with the RSA and the approved driving instructor branch of the Unite Trade Union on March 2 and March 18 respectively.

Committee Chair, Kieran O’Donnell TD said: The committee is conscious of the impact this driving test backlog is especially having on young drivers. It is estimated that going from a provisional to a full driving licence can reduce motor insurance premiums by anything between 30% to 80%. The Committee has considered the key issues and has agreed conclusions and recommendations, public health guidelines permitting. In order to address these growing backlogs for driving tests, the Committee recommends solutions be considered.”

The recommendations include:

  • Essential workers currently have access to driving tests but cannot complete the mandatory EDT required to sit the test, even if they only have a few lessons remaining. The Committee believes that this is a significant oversight, and recommends that essential workers be allowed to complete EDT lessons in a safe way with approved driving instructors (ADIs)
  • Where there is spare testing centre capacity, non-essential workers who have completed their mandatory EDT hours should be allowed to sit their driving test
  • Minister and his Department approve the current request and submission from the RSA to recruit a total additional 80 driver testers; an additional 40 on top of the 40 already approved and being recruited to bring the total compliment to 218. The RSA have confirmed to the committee that they need 218 driver testers to reduce the driving testing waiting times to 10 weeks by February 2022.
  • RSA and Department would look at the possibility of increasing the number of tests a driver tester can perform each day
  • RSA expedites the planned rollout of online driver theory test to cover all testing categories
  • ADIs estimate that between those who have a provisional licence and are waiting for a test, and those who are waiting to take their driver theory test, up to one million EDT lessons may be required once Covid-19 restrictions are lifted. It is important that ADIs are supported by the Department of Transport and the RSA in whatever way necessary to service this additional demand. Furthermore, we would ask that ADIs are supported to ensure they can operate and come through this pandemic.

For more information regarding the Joint Committee on Transport and Communications Networks, see the Committee webpage

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Committee membership

Deputies

Fine Gael

Fianna Fáil

Independent

Green Party

Fianna Fáil

Kieran O'Donnell - Cathaoirleach (chair)

Fine Gael

Labour Party

Senators

Fine Gael

Independent

Fianna Fáil

Fianna Fáil