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Essential workers should be allowed to finish driving lessons, Oireachtas committee tells minister

The committee says that stopping essential workers from continuing driving lessons is a “significant oversight”.

Image: Shutterstock/Chayanit

AN OIREACHTAS COMMITTEE has recommended that essential workers should be permitted to finish their driving lessons to enable them to sit a test.

The Joint Committee on Transport and Communications Networks has told Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan that a growing backlog of people waiting to take a driving test needs to be addressed.

In a letter, the committee has told the minister that essential workers should be allowed to complete their driving lessons.

Currently, essential workers can sit driving lessons, but only if they have already completed their twelve Essential Driving Training (EDT) lessons.

“The Committee believes that this is a significant oversight, and recommends that essential workers be allowed to complete EDT lessons in a safe way with approved driving instructors.”

Additionally, where there is spare capacity in testing centres, the committee recommends that non-essential workers who have completed their lessons should be allowed to sit their test.

61,635 people are waiting for a driving test appointment, while 5,262 who have an appointment scheduled are waiting to take their test.

Around 80,000 people are waiting to sit the driving theory test, which must be passed before they can receive a learner’s permit.

The Oireachtas committee wants to see the Department of Transport approve a request from the Road Safety Authority (RSA) to recruit 80 additional driver testers to bring the total number of testers to 218.

The RSA says it needs 218 testers to reduce the waiting times for tests to ten weeks by February 2022.

The committee recommends that the department and the RSA look at increasing the number of tests a tester can conduct in a day and that the RSA expedites the rollout of an online driver theory test to cover all testing categories.

It said that Approved Driving Instructors (ADIs) should be supported as they face additional demand for lessons after restrictions lift.

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The committee’s chair, Fine Gael TD Kieran O’Donnell, said that the committee is “conscious of the impact this driving test backlog is especially having on young drivers”.

“It is estimated that going from a provisional to a full driving licence can reduce motor insurance premiums by anything between 30% to 80%,” O’Donnell said.

“The Committee has considered the key issues and has agreed conclusions and recommendations, public health guidelines permitting. In order to address these growing backlogs for driving tests, the Committee recommends solutions be considered.” 

The committee heard calls at a meeting in March for essential workers to be allowed continue with driving lessons.

Chairman of Unite ADI union branch Dominic Brophy said the backlog of people waiting for tests is a huge problem and that “intelligent use” of the scheduling system could help to clear it.

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