Driver test waiting times down to 10 weeks by mid-year, says Minister

Delays down from 30 weeks last August to 15 by end of March, Minister of State at the Department of Transport Jack Chambers tells Dáil

Waiting times for driving tests will be reduced to 10 weeks by the middle of the year according to the Road Safety Authority (RSA).

Following controversy over chronic delays in waiting times, Minister of State Jack Chambers told the Dáil they had reduced from 30 weeks last August to 15 weeks by the end of March.

The Minister was speaking during a wide-ranging debate on road safety in the wake of the rising death toll on the roads. Mr Chambers said that, as of Wednesday morning, there have been 63 fatalities on the roads this year, an increase of 14 on this time last year and it “puts us on course for more than 220 fatalities for the year in total”, compared to 188 deaths last year.

Drink and drug driving are among the main causes of road deaths and the Minister said that in the first three months of this year, 2,588 drivers have already tested positive for at least one drug “with cannabis accounting for more than half of those positives and over 30 per cent found positive for cocaine”.


He said the Road Traffic Bill, which he hoped the President would sign this week, introduces mandatory drug testing at the scene of a collision, on the same basis as alcohol testing, and he would commence this provision in the coming weeks.

He said the RSA had informed him that since the appointment of an additional 75 driving testers, waiting times had steadily reduced and that a waiting time of 10 weeks “will be restored by the middle of the year”.

“That will help address the wider backlog and ensure the resources are there to tackle the issue of multiple learner permits.”

Labour TD Aodhán Ó Riordáin described the backlog in driving tests as “outrageous” and said that “more than 86,000 people are waiting to book or take a driving test, including 31,000 in Dublin”.

This delay was encouraging people to drive illegally on learner permits and for young drivers to pick up general bad habits and he pointed to the figures that “up to 30,000 people on their third or subsequent provisional licence have never sat a driving test. In some cases, learners have been driving for 30 years without ever holding a full licence.”

Green Party TD Marc Ó Cathasaigh said there was a lot of focus on drivers but many of the people who have died on Irish roads are pedestrians or cyclists and road safety should include all people.

He also criticised the RSA for spending €240,000 last November on personal protective equipment for visibility.

“I want to see the cost-benefit analysis on that type of expenditure” and the “underpinning research which shows that road safety is significantly improved in some meaningful way from that kind of investment”, he said.

Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl said the State should look at engaging with the insurance companies “on insisting on speed suppressors in cars driven by learner drivers and young people”.

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran is Parliamentary Correspondent of The Irish Times