Tuesday, 11 May 2021
Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport
204. To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport when persons that applied to sit the driver theory test will be given a date to sit the test in view of the fact that level 5 restrictions are being lifted; if there is an option for the persons to sit the test remotely; and the length of time it will take to process the backlog of theory tests given that level 5 restrictions have been lifted. [24480/21]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 201 and 204 together.
Currently, the Driver Theory Test is considered a non-essential service and remains closed for now.
Because the service was closed for long periods of time over the last year, a large backlog of customers has built up. The RSA recognise that it will take time to meet this demand and restore pre-COVID-19 waiting times when the service does reopen. The public’s patience and understanding in this regard is requested.
To deal with the backlog, the RSA is engaging with its service provider to examine ways of increasing the number of tests for when services resume. The aim is to increase capacity at all test centres to cater for additional appointments.
Pre-pandemic capacity was approximately 15,000 tests per month. When the service is allowed to reopen, the aim is to provide approximately 50,000 tests per month. This would make substantial inroads into the backlog.
A pilot online driver theory test is underway for trucks and buses. The rollout of this option to theory tests for cars is planned to begin shortly. There will be a limit on the number of customers that can avail of the online service during the initial rollout phase, but work is ongoing to make online services more widely available towards the end of 2021.
As part of the broader easing of restrictions across Irish society, the gradual reopening of the driving instruction industry will commence from the 10th of May.
Essential Driver Training (EDT) for cars may resume from the 10 May in circumstances where the learner in question is a confirmed essential worker. This cohort will be required to download and complete a self-declaration form from the RSA website which they must then present to their instructor before starting lessons. The RSA will also reopen the online EDT portal to allow instructors upload completed modules for the learners in question.