Written answers

Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport

Driver Test

Photo of Marc MacSharryMarc MacSharry (Sligo-Leitrim, Fianna Fail)
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1004. To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the number of driver tests conducted in respect of category B driving licences in each month in 2019, in tabular form. [6122/20]

Photo of Shane RossShane Ross (Dublin Rathdown, Independent)
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This is a matter for the Road Safety Authority.  I have referred the question to the Authority for direct reply.  I would ask the Deputy to contact my office if a response is not received within 10 days.

Photo of Marc MacSharryMarc MacSharry (Sligo-Leitrim, Fianna Fail)
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1005. To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if temporary or alternative measures are being considered to support learner drivers unable to sit their test owing to Covid-19. [6123/20]

Photo of Shane RossShane Ross (Dublin Rathdown, Independent)
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It must be understood that a learner permit is not a licence, but a permit to allow a person to drive while learning. The purpose of the driving test is to set out the minimum level of knowledge, skill and competency that a learner must demonstrate in order to become a fully licensed driver. Until a learner can meet this standard and pass this test, they are not safe to take to our roads without appropriate supervision.  Hence the support that learner drivers need now is the same as it always has been - learning to drive with an experienced driver alongside.

The driving test, like other public services provided by the Road Safety Authority (RSA), has been temporarily closed for public health reasons during the COVID crisis. 

The RSA undertook the appropriate risk assessments and is satisfied that it cannot, bearing in mind its responsibility for the health and safety of its employees and the general public,, undertake category B (car) driving tests on an emergency basis at this time.  In particular, a driver tester would be required to be within a two metre distance continuously for a period in excess of 20 minutes. They have looked at a number of approaches to mitigate this but have not identified a means to do within the public health guidance in force, and regrettably they have been unable to carry out car driving tests on an emergency basis.

However, it may be possible to carry out driving tests in other categories of vehicles, like ambulances or buses, and the RSA assesses these on a case-by-case basis.

The RSA is currently working, in consultation with my Department, on plans for the resumption of the range of public services and functions for which it is responsible, following the publications of the Government roadmap and, more recently, the National Return to Work Safely Protocol agreed by employer and trade union representatives.  Until a date has been agreed with the relevant authorities whereby driver testing can be carried out safely and in accordance with the public health requirements, there is little point in providing provisional test dates.  The RSA has always provided urgent tests where the circumstances warrant it, and I expect this to be the case when the service is allowed to re-open. 

The safety of the public is of paramount importance at this time, and in this as in all aspects of the Covid-19 crisis, my Department will be guided by NPHET and national experts.

Photo of Marc MacSharryMarc MacSharry (Sligo-Leitrim, Fianna Fail)
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1006. To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the number of full-time equivalent driver test instructors currently employed. [6124/20]

Photo of Shane RossShane Ross (Dublin Rathdown, Independent)
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This is a matter for the Road Safety Authority.  I have referred the question to the Authority for direct reply.  I would ask the Deputy to contact my office if a response is not received within 10 days.

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