Contrary to the Deputy's assertion, waiting times for driving tests have in fact reduced significantly across all test centres in recent months. As of the 22 June, not a single test centre in the country has an average waiting time of greater than 10 weeks, with the national average waiting time currently standing at 6.9 weeks. This marked improvement has come about as a result of the recruitment by the Road Safety Authority (RSA) of a large amount of additional driver testers since the beginning of this year.
The Deputy's follow-on suggestion that a long-term learner permit holder with an accident-free record be automatically entitled to a full licence runs entirely contrary to the principles underpinning our testing and licencing system. A learner who has held multiple consecutive permits will, in most cases, have had sufficient time to develop their driving skills and reach the point where they are ready to take the test. The purpose of the test is to allow learners to demonstrate their ability to drive safely and responsibly under varied and challenging conditions. To award a licence to an individual who has not met this basic passing standard would be a dangerous and retrograde step and not one my Department is prepared to entertain.