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Driver Test

Dáil Éireann Debate, Tuesday - 1 June 2021

Tuesday, 1 June 2021

Ceisteanna (231)

Denise Mitchell

Ceist:

231. Deputy Denise Mitchell asked the Minister for Transport when he expects the large backlogs of both driver theory and practical tests to be cleared; if he will prioritise those that require a full licence for the purposes of employment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29480/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

In line with the further easing of restrictions, the gradual re-opening of in-person driver theory test centres will commence after the 7th of June. The Road Safety Authority (RSA) will reopen its network of test centres and will be permitted to conduct 25,000 driver theory tests per month.

Prior to COVID-19, the RSA provided 15,000 tests per month. In light of the significant backlog of customers, the RSA will gradually increase capacity in its test centres to 25,000 tests a month.

The test centres have extensive COVID-19 measures in place to protect both customers and staff and to ensure the safe delivery of the service. It is hoped that capacity will gradually increase to 50,000 tests per month over time, if public health guidance permits.

The RSA has been working to deliver an online theory test service, with a pilot online test already underway for trucks and buses. This pilot service has now been extended to include a limited number of car and motorbike tests. 

The new offering will see 4,000 online theory tests available for all categories of vehicles per month. Tests are available on a ‘first come, first served’ basis with the new online service becoming more widely available later in the year. Once the online service is established, all customers will be able to opt to do the test online.

Driving tests for essential workers will continue to be the priority for the driver testing service. In line with the gradual reopening of services, driving tests for all those who are eligible to take the test and have been waiting longest will recommence in a limited fashion.

My Department is liaising with the RSA on an ongoing basis to meet the growing demand for tests.  An additional 40 driver testers have been authorised along with 36 approved for retention or rehire in 2020. The RSA is making good progress in recruiting these additional testers and they are expected to conduct tests by the end of June 2021. 

The Department and the RSA will monitor what impact the new testers are having as they come on stream and as the Covid restriction level reduces. Further recruitment, if necessary, will take place.  

The health of both the public and the testers themselves must take priority, and as a result it is important to recognise that it will take time to get driver testing waiting times back to normal pre-Covid levels.

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