Friday, February 03, 2023

By Suzanne Pender

MORE than 1,000 people are waiting for a driving test in Co Carlow, a situation described this week as “entirely unacceptable”.

Deputy Jennifer Murnane O’Connor said figures provided by the Road Safety Authority (RSA) in response to her parliamentary question showed that as of the end of December last year, a total of 316 tests were scheduled.

It indicated that a whopping 1,073 people were waiting on a test in Co Carlow, while a further 955 people had been issued with an invitation to book a test, but had not done so within ten days.

“I’m astonished by the high number of people waiting on a driving test in Co Carlow,” said deputy Murnane O’Connor.

“I’m calling for increased resources. The earliest appointment I could find on the RSA estimator for Carlow is August. This is unacceptable,” she said.

“It’s a barrier for learner drivers in rural areas in Carlow. I know additional testers have been recruited, but more recruitment is needed so we can get as many tests done as possible,” she added.

Deputy Murnane O’Connor raised the matter with taoiseach Leo Varadkar in the Dáil last Tuesday.

She received the figures from the RSA, having asked minister for transport Eamon Ryan for the exact number of learner drivers awaiting a driving test in Co Carlow and asked whether there was a plan to address the backlog.

A spokesperson for the RSA said the number of permanent testers has increased from 100 to 130 following a recent recruitment campaign.

“These testers will be deployed nationally in line with demand, with effect from January 2023,’ a statement read. ‘This will reduce waiting times nationally over the coming months.’

The spokesperson said fast-tracking of appointments for customers outside of their place in the queue will not take place ‘in the interest of fairness’.

Learner drivers waiting on a test can change their chosen driving test centre if they wish, to a centre with a shorter wait time. Those on the waiting list can check the wait times for all test centres using the RSA’s estimator tool.

The RSA also informed deputy Murnane O’Connor that it does not operate a cancellation list.

‘We can only offer an emergency test to critical frontline workers, who drive during the course of their duties,’ the spokesperson added.


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