Tuesday, 4 May 2004
Department of Transport
Question 88: To ask the Minister for Transport the number of persons awaiting driving tests at the latest date for which figures are available; the current waiting time in each test centre; the efforts he and his Department are making to clear the backlog of driving test applications; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12531/04]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 55, 74 and 88 together.
The number of applicants awaiting a driving test at 26 April 2004 is 120,541. Of these, 17,446 have been given test appointments and a further 13,835 have indicated that they are currently not available to be tested. The current average waiting time and numbers awaiting a test at each driving test centre as at 26 April 2004 are set out in the following table.
The current waiting times are due to the unprecedented level of some 234,000 test applications received in 2003. This represents a 21% increase on 2002 applications. However, indications are that applications have now fallen to normally expected levels and I anticipate that the current waiting times will improve over the coming year.
Sanction for a bonus scheme for driver testers was obtained from the Department of Finance in May 2003. Under the terms of the scheme set out by the Department of Finance, the bonus scheme terminated in November 2003. The potential for initiating a further bonus scheme in order to address the backlog is being investigated. In addition to the bonus scheme, eight retired driver testers were re-employed with effect from 13 October 2003. Driver testers continue to deliver additional tests by working overtime on Saturdays and at lunchtime.
Preparation of legislation to establish the driver testing and standards authority, which will take on responsibility for conducting driving tests and will have more flexibility to respond to variations in demand, is at an advanced stage and I expect to be in a position to submit the text of the Bill to Government shortly.
|Centre||Numbers Awaiting a Test||Average Weeks Waiting|
|Note: the average waiting time is derived having regard to waiting times experienced by individual applicants who have undergone a driving test over the previous four week period in the test centre.|