Snappier driving test times sought following learner seizure surge

The Government has been called on to give a commitment to reduce driving test waiting times by rural youth organisation Macra na Feirme, following a surge in the recording of learner driver offences.

This is particularly important in areas which are not serviced by alternative forms of transport, the group has said.

337 vehicles seized

A total of 377 vehicles driven by unaccompanied leaner drivers have been seized by Gardai since December, the organisation has noted.

By law, learner drivers are required to be accompanied with an experienced driver holding a full licence.

A transport survey conducted by the Macra na Feirme Rural Youth Committee found that 86% of Macra members needed a private vehicle to commute to work, while just 21% said they were satisfied with public transport in their area.

The survey also showed that 34% of respondents felt that inadequate access to transport hindered their employment opportunities.

The Road Safety Authority aims for an average national waiting time of 10 weeks; however, some rural areas currently have to wait double this period, Macra claims.

Five-month waiting times

Macra na Feirme national president James Healy said: “Currently in some rural areas the waiting time for a driving test is five months – that is simply too long.

The president said that, while Macra understands the recent change in law to crack down on unaccompanied learner drivers, the Government needs to do its part too in reducing waiting times.

“Both the Taoiseach and Minister for Transport have accepted that current waiting times are too long, and the Government is working to reduce them, but it would be useful to know how many new testers have been recruited to deal with the issue and when we can expect waiting times to normalise.

The majority of young people living in rural areas depend on their cars for college, work and day-to-day life; the law had been somewhat grey in the past about driving unaccompanied but now it is crystal clear.

“Similar clarity about how the Government is tackling driving test wait times is essential,” Healy concluded.