Tuesday, 12 October 2021
Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport
89. To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if a driving test application by a person (details supplied) will expedited given the applicant requires the test for work purposes; and if he will make additional resources available to the RSA to assist with the clearance of a backlog as a result of public health restrictions imposed over the past year. [49653/21]
Under legislation, the Road Safety Authority (RSA) is the body responsible for the operation of the Driving Test. The scheduling of appointments is an operational matter for the Road Safety Authority, and one in which I have no role.
I am therefore passing this part of the Deputy's question to the Road Safety Authority for direct reply. If a reply has not been received within 10 working days, the Deputy should contact my office.
Due to the suspension of driver testing services in the initial pandemic response, along with the health protocols required since the resumption of services, services are operating below normal capacity and a significant backlog has developed.
In line with the gradual reopening of services this summer, driving tests for all those who are eligible to take the test and have been waiting longest have now recommenced. Critical frontline workers continue to be the priority for the driver testing service.
My Department is liaising with the RSA on an ongoing basis to meet the growing demand for tests. An additional 40 temporary driver testers have been authorised along with 36 approved for retention or rehire in 2020. These testers have been recruited and trained and commenced testing in July.
In addition, sanction was granted at the end of June to add a further 40 testers to the cohort.
A further issue is the number of tests carried out per tester per day. Before the pandemic, testers conducted eight tests per day. On the resumption of the service in summer 2020, this was reduced to five because of health precautions, but later raised to six. As of September 27, 2021, this has been further increased to seven tests per tester per day.
The health of both the public and the testers themselves must take priority. As a result, it is important to recognise that it will take time to get driver testing waiting times back to normal pre-Covid levels.