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Learner drivers could soon be waiting more than a year to do their driving test

Law changes increasing the penalties for learner drivers will lead to a surge in demand for driving tests, Fórsa predict.

LEARNER DRIVERS COULD soon be waiting more than a year to sit their driving test due to a shortage of testers, Fórsa is warning.

The trade union, which represents driving testers, say changes to the Road Traffic Act, which will introduce stricter penalties for learner drivers who drive without an accompanying fully licenced driver, could cause average waiting time to spiral to as long as 55 weeks.

The average waiting time is currently 14 weeks.

The legislation will introduce fines of up to €2,000, or six months imprisonment, for motorists who allow their vehicles to be used by unaccompanied learner drivers. It will also allow for the detention of vehicles illegally driven by learner drivers.

“Fórsa supports the measures in the Road Traffic Bill because they will improve road safety,” the union’s assistant general secretary, Ashley Connolly, said.

But we need to quickly put the necessary measures in place to prevent a huge backlog of driving tests and a potential trebling of waiting times.

There are currently 102 driving testers, a 20% drop on the amount of assessors in 2007.

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The union is calling for that number to be doubled through the establishment of a panel of approximately 100 testers that can be deployed where needed.

It has reached an agreement with the Road Safety Authority on the creation of the panel and it has called on the Department of Transport to sanction the plan.

Connolly said Fórsa and the RSA have also discussed other ways of reducing waiting times including looking at additional flexibility measures.

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Céimin Burke

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