Sinn Féin’s Donegal T.D’s have today called on the Minister for Transport, Eamon Ryan TD, to take decisive action to tackle the massive driving test backlog.
Deputies Doherty and Mac Lochlainn’s comments come as the Road Safety Authority (RSA) confirmed that there are now 2,613 learner drivers waiting for a test in Donegal, and over 92,000 people waiting across the state.
Deputy Doherty said “The RSA has confirmed to Sinn Féin that there are now 92,210 people waiting for a driving test, with some constituents telling me they will be forced to wait months for a test date.
“Throughout 2020 we called on Minister Shane Ross and the new Minister Eamon Ryan TD, to address the worsening crisis. Neither took the problem seriously and the situation has now greatly worsened.
“In fact, the number of people waiting for a test has increased by 70% since June of this year.
“With public transport down to 25% capacity and sharing of lifts not feasible due to Covid, this is causing massive problems for people who need a licence to get to work.
“It’s a huge issue for people in rural Ireland, where public transport simply isn’t an option.
“The problem is particularly bad in our own county, with 2,613 learner drivers waiting for a test across Donegal Town, Letterkenny and Buncrana testing centres.
“In Letterkenny, 1,452 have applied for a date for a test, with 1,024 applicants deemed eligible having completed all necessary mandatory lessons. In Donegal Town, 700 have applied for a test with 462 of those applicants eligible. In Buncrana, 461 have applied for a test and 316 of those are eligible.
Deputy Mac Lochlainn said “There is a clear need for additional driving instructors and testers. Likewise, longer opening hours and weekend tests would go some way to address the lengthening backlog.
“The Minister needs to urgently consult with instructors, testers and their unions to find a way forward to accelerate the number of tests that can be carried out safely over the coming months.
“In addition, the driver theory test is still suspended, causing further delays for those learning to drive.
“Sinn Féin have also called for online driver theory tests to be extended to all categories of learner drivers, to help deal with the growing backlog of those learning to drive.
“The Driver Theory Test Service is currently providing remote theory tests for bus, truck, CPC and ADI categories. This is a welcome development, but it is essential this is now expanded to those learning to drive a car.”