Written answers

Thursday, 4 July 2024

Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport

Driver Test

Photo of Martin KennyMartin Kenny (Sligo-Leitrim, Sinn Fein)
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31. To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport for an update on the recruitment of driving testers by the RSA; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28555/24]

Photo of Niamh SmythNiamh Smyth (Cavan-Monaghan, Fianna Fail)
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45. To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the measures he proposes to take to reduce the wait time for driving tests from 15.6 weeks to the projected target of ten weeks. [28468/24]

Photo of James LawlessJames Lawless (Kildare North, Fianna Fail)
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I propose to take Questions Nos. 31 and 45 together.

Under the Road Safety Authority Act 2006, the Road Safety Authority (RSA) has statutory responsibility for the National Driver Testing Service. The national average estimated waiting time for a car driving test invitation is 15.6 weeks for a new applicant. While this is still above the service level agreement target of 10 weeks, significant progress has been made since last August, when the estimated wait time was 30.4 weeks nationally.

To address issues of rising demand and wait times for a driving test, in March 2023 the Department of Transport conveyed sanction for the RSA to recruit up to an additional 75 driver testers on a temporary basis. This brings the current overall number of sanction driver testing posts to 205, up from 100 in June 2022.

With the introduction of additional testing capacity from September last year, the average wait time for a test fell from 30.4 weeks at the end of August to 14.9 weeks at the end of April. The Authority is targeting a restoration of the 10-week level by the end of August. However, due to high volumes of new applications during May, which were around 60% higher than the historical average, the average wait time rose to 15.6 weeks at the end of that month.

To further assist with reducing waiting times, in October last year a change was made to the booking system to allow any unused test slots to be made available for candidates to take up at short notice. If a driving test is cancelled at short notice, the RSA now make this appointment available to the general public on the MyRoadSafety portal.

The Authority has recently started to publish detailed monthly information on the driver testing service on the CSO website, including the breakdown of waiting times and distribution of testing capacity by test centre.

The RSA submitted a business case to the Department in June 2024, regarding long-term, permanent staffing needs for the service to cater to current and future demand. This submission is in line with the March 2023 sanction which indicated the permanent staffing needs would be considered and agreed before the end of 2024.

The Department of Transport and RSA are engaging on this proposal. While these deliberations are ongoing, sanction remains in place for up to 205 driver testers.

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