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Unite criticises "unsafe practice" of RSA conducting live driving test training during Covid-19

The trade union says the RSA are failing to comply with social distancing guidelines.

Image: Shutterstock/michaeljung

TRADE UNION UNITE has criticised the Road Safety Authority (RSA) for conducting live driving test training, calling it “unsafe practice” during Covid-19. 

The RSA has begun training newly appointed driver testers in order to tackle the backlog of people currently waiting on a driving test. 

There are currently 225,000 people on waiting lists, with 105,216 people now waiting for a driving test, while a further 119,253 people are on the theory test list.

Training of new testers will include a live driving test with people who are sitting their test, placing three people in the car at the one time. 

Unite’s driving instructors branch has said that the RSA is failing to comply with social distancing recommendations. 

Responding to their concerns, the RSA indicated that, “in the event that a candidate refuses to proceed with the test while being accompanied, the test will be cancelled and the candidate’s fee will be forfeit.”

Unite Regional Officer Jean O’Dowd said that this is predominantly affecting younger age groups who have yet to receive a Covid-19 vaccine. 

“Most have been caught up in unprecedented backlogs, with many having been unemployed during the pandemic and would have struggled to meet the cost of sitting their test are now facing an ultimatum from the RSA,” she said. 

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She added that Unite has been contacted by people who took part in a driving test while an tester driver was being trained, who said that it “added stress to an already stressful situation and can only have a negative effect on the driver’s performance.”

The RSA has claimed that all relevant health and safety protocols are being followed during driving tests for candidates, driving testers and the accompanying supervisors. 

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