Thursday, 19 January 2023
Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport
178. To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if his attention has been drawn to the number of persons waiting to sit their driving test in most centres around the country, including Limerick; if additional instructors will be hired to alleviate this backlog; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2530/23]
The Road Safety Authority (RSA) has statutory responsibility for the operation of the national driving test and deals with all application and scheduling matters, however my attention has been drawn to the issue of driver testing waiting times throughout the State.
I am informed that the current increase in demand for driving tests and the time to invitation for learner drivers has a number of contributing factors which include: an increase in learner permits in circulation which has grown by about 30% since Q3 2019; increased capacity in the Driver Theory Test when the service resumed post Covid-19 pandemic and an increase in Advanced Driving Instructors capacity to deliver lessons to learner drivers which has increased the volume of learners becoming eligible and ready to take their actual test.
I would like to assure the Deputy that the RSA is making every effort to address this issue. The Authority conducted a review of the current and evolving needs of the driver testing service in 2022, following which my Department sanctioned an increase in the permanent driver tester headcount from 100 to 130.
I am informed that the RSA is currently deploying a number of successful candidates across the driver testing service, with a focus on geographical areas with the longest waiting lists. It is expected that the remainder will be deployed by Q1 2023.
The RSA has assured me that they are keeping the situation under constant review and the Authority will report back to my Department on the steps being taken to continue to reduce waiting times. If sanction requests for further increases in driver testers are received, my Department will evaluate them promptly.