Learner drivers face seven-month wait for driving test
Troubling new figures reveal that learner drivers are facing up to seven months on the waiting list to get a driving test.
The number of people waiting for their driving test has shot up from 44,000 to 76,000 since October.
In reality, learner drivers may be losing out on job opportunities because of the waiting time and they will also feel the pinch on higher insurance premiums as well because they are forced to wait up to seven months for their test.
The situation is quite ridiculous, when in a modern western country, the growing backlog means that some learner drivers can’t even take up jobs that require a full license and are coughing up for higher insurance premiums because they are still only provisional license holders.
Transport Minister Shane Ross has to come in for heavy criticism for this and indeed he is being criticised for this frustrating seven month delay in places like Tipperary and Galway.
In Waterford, Fianna Fail’s Mary Butler says that she is hearing from angry learner drivers getting on to her about the delay in securing their test date.
Ms Butler has highlighted in the media that the Transport Minister, Mr Shane Ross had been warned several times about these exasperating waiting times. She said:
“I believe he has taken his eye off the ball on this”
She also warned that learner drivers are breaking the law by going out on the roads alone because of the delays.
“I know (learner drivers) take the risk. I have seen in myself first hand,”
New data from the Road Safety Authority (RSA) breaks down the numbers of people waiting on driving tests across the country in the 50 test centres.
Statistics show that 21,000 learner drivers are on waiting lists in Dublin, nearly 6,000 in Cork and 2,500 people hanging around for test dates in Limerick.
The Transport Minister and the RSA are countering the claims and are themselves blaming the delays on a major hike in driving test applications over the past four years and on testers going into retirement.
These are just not valid excuses for such a delay. There will always be an increase in applications and there will always be testers retiring. It is a simple fact of life and the Transport Ministry and other agencies need to just prepare and plan better. It is not rocket science. Increased demand requires an increase in resources.
It is expected to take to the middle of next march to hire the next generation of driving testers and another seven weeks to train them in.
An RSA spokeswoman said they had recruited 17 new testers with salaries up to €49,000 since last year and had a further six people in training.
A spokesperson for the Department of Transport also indicated that the minister had plans to crackdown on car owners who let learner drivers take their vehicles out on the roads unaccompanied, which would see owners having their car seized if caught.