Almost a third of households have been directly affected by wait times to sit the driving test and current restrictions limiting tests to those working in essential services, a recent survey has found.
In response to an AA Ireland survey of over 4,000 Irish motorists, 22.82% of respondents strongly agreed that one or more members of their household have been or will be negatively affected by the current wait times to sit the driving test. Meanwhile, a further 6.11% of those surveyed stated that they partially agreed with this claim.
Under Level 5 restrictions, only those considered essential workers are allowed to proceed with a driving test.
“For as long as we remain in level 5 of Covid-19 restrictions, the Government have quite rightly taken the decision to restrict driving tests to those working in essential services," Conor Faughnan, AA Director of Consumer Affairs stated.
"However, the longer this goes on, the longer the waiting list for a test date becomes for those who currently can’t apply to sit their test. When restrictions ease and we are in a position for regular testing to resume, it’s important that the RSA receive the required support from Government to take the steps necessary to minimise the delay," he said.
The survey also found that instances of learner permit holders driving without an accompanying fully qualified driver may be on the rise.
Meanwhile, 12.38% of those surveyed by the AA strongly agreed that they knew of at least one learner driver regularly driving without an accompanying driver. A further 9.59% of respondents partially agreed with this statement.
“We’ve already had an issue in recent years with a small minority of learner permit holders thinking they had reason to drive without an accompanying driver because of difficulties getting a test or a requirement to get to work. This is not the case plain and simple, until you pass the test you must have a fully qualified driver with you and COVID does not change that,” Faughnan added.
The Road Safety Authority (RSA), acknowledge that Covid-19 has caused a large backlog of customers waiting for a driving test adding "unfortunately this means that it may be some time before we can offer you an appointment".
"We are currently developing an online tool that will estimate when you can expect to be invited to book a test. This is planned to be ready by the end of April 2021," they note.
Appointments will be prioritised based on eligibility
Once the testing restrictions have been eased, the RSA said that more candidates from the waiting list will be invited to book a test.
However, appointment slots will be offered based on the following order of criteria:
1. Covid-19 cancellations – anyone who was due to take a test but had to cancel because of Covid-19 restrictions will be given priority (provided they were eligible to take the test at the time).
2. Eligibility – you must be qualified to take the test. You cannot sit the test until you have held your first learner permit for at least 6 months and completed all of your driver training - that is, EDT for cars or IBT for motorbikes.
3. Application date – the earlier you applied, the sooner you will get an invitation to book a test.