Wednesday, 24 February 2021
Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport
122. To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if a reply will issue to correspondence (details supplied) on the renewal of approved driver instructor registration; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10048/21]
Under provisions set out in S.I. No. 203/2009 - Road Traffic (Driving Instructor Licensing) (No. 2) Regulations 2009 the Road Safety Authority (RSA) is legally required to carry out a check test of an Approved Driving Instructor every two years at the very minimum. This test takes the form of an observation by an RSA examiner of a lesson given by the instructor to a learner driver and is considered an essential element in the regulation and continuous professional development of driving instructors.
Driving is a complex and multi-faceted skill and instructors shoulder a considerable responsibility in teaching their students to behave safely and responsibly on the roads at all times. It is for this reason that it is imperative that the RSA have a means of ensuring that all instructors maintain the highest of teaching standards in the years after they have completed their initial qualification. It is important that we do not allow the current pandemic to unnecessarily undermine the very significant progress we have made in reducing the impact of road collisions on public health and health services.
I further understand that the RSA, since resuming check tests in September, has drawn upon a provision in the 2009 regulation permitting the conducting of a test with the examiner playing the role of the learner driver rather than the learner driver themselves. This provision will serve to limit the number of people present in the vehicle for the duration of the check test from three to two and thus reduce the risk of transmission accordingly.
124. To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if further clarification will be provided regarding plans to conduct driver theory tests online; and the timelines being placed on the Road Safety Authority, RSA, to ensure this system can be accessible for all applicants, without further delay. [10113/21]
My Department had previously requested that the RSA, as the body legally responsible for the driver theory test, examine whether theory tests can be taken on-line remotely and what is required to do so.
I am pleased to inform you that the Driver Theory Test service has launched a pilot phase of a new initiative, which offers a Remote Testing service for specific categories of Theory Test (C, D, CD, BMT, TMT, ADI, CPCB, CPCT).
During the pilot phase Remote Testing will be available on a limited basis and extra capacity will be added as it is rolled out to allow more customers to sit their bus, truck, Certificate of Professional Competency (CPC) or Approved Driver Instructor (ADI) Theory Test online. Remote Testing allows candidates to test from their home or another suitable environment once the minimum requirements for the service have been met.
Following a review of the pilot phase, the RSA expect the initiative to be extended for car and motorcycles.
The RSA is fully committed to extending the service to all categories of vehicles, however, I would like to highlight, this expansion of services will take some time. Operational, technical, logistical and contractual issues will have to be addressed prior to roll out of the service and it is expected to be at least end of Quarter Two before the RSA are in a position to offer the service for all test categories.
125. To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the consideration being given to providing an amnesty to applicants who have been on the driver theory tests waiting list for a considerable length of time, given the current long waiting times for such tests. [10114/21]
I will not be making any changes to the existing legislation in the learning to drive process.
By law, before applying for a learner permit, candidates must complete and pass a driver theory test. It applies to anyone applying for a first learner permit in any vehicle category. The test is designed to check knowledge of critical issues such as: rules of the road, risk perception, hazard awareness and good driving behaviour. Upon passing the theory test, an individual can then apply for a learner permit.
Until a person has successfully completed their driver theory test and thereby demonstrated they have attained a sufficient level of road safety and motoring knowledge, they cannot commence driving on our roads. Allowing individuals to bypass this vital step in the learning to drive process will only put their and others’ safety at risk – and risk further pressure on our health services.
While the Driver Theory Test (DTT) remains closed during Level 5 Covid-19 restrictions, the Road Safety Authority has advised my office that it is engaging with its service provider to maximise capacity to offer tests for when services are resumed. In this regard, they would, for example, be opening on additional days at some centres and extended hours would also be provided to allow additional capacity for appointments.
While I regret the inconvenience caused, public safety is of paramount importance. My officials and I are working hard to ensure the resumption of services as soon as Level 5 is lifted.