Young drivers could have to wait 18 months to get a full license despite government assurances that the current backlog could be resolved within 15 weeks, according to industry sources.
The growing backlog causes both frustration and expense for young drivers who must always have a driver’s license with them and pay higher premiums while waiting to take their exam, they say.
“The size of the challenge of dealing with this backlog cannot be understated. Certainly, some recent claims by Transport Minister Eamon Ryan about the likelihood of reducing wait times in the short term deserve a closer look, ”said Jonathan Hehir, managing director of auto insurance broker Coverinaclick.ie .
The Road Safety Authority (RSA), which oversees the testing process, said Covid-19 has caused a large backlog of customers awaiting a driving test.
Last month, Minister Ryan told Dail his department was in constant contact with RSA to meet growing demand for testing, and that 40 more temporary testers had been authorized.
He said RSA is also looking to increase the number of tests from six to seven per tester per day, as well as extend operating hours when restrictions are fully lifted.
“Assuming a successful return to seven tests per tester per day and with the 40 testers already approved, the system capacity will be 4,881 tests per week. If we’re still at six tests per tester when the 40 testers start, that number will be 4,183. At this point, there are about 72,000 people eligible to take a test. With 4,881 weekly tests, it should be possible to clear this backlog in 15 weeks, which would allow these testers to do seven tests per day, ”said Minister Ryan.
But Mr Hehir said the number of waits for a test had since climbed to 96,000 and with the 120,000 waiting for a desk test, it would take around 44 weeks to clear waiting lists for it. weekly test rate. This is assuming all of these pilots pass their test on the first try.
“The pass rate is around 55pc, so almost half of those who take the test will have to reapply, extending the time it would take to completely clear the numbers to around 80 weeks. This is again based on the unlikely assumption that all repeat testers will pass the second time around and that no one else will apply for a driving test in the next 80 weeks, ”he said.
“From what we have seen on the major front, the minister’s goal seems unrealistic. Beyond the frustration and consequences for young drivers – many of whom live in rural areas and need a full license to be able to drive on their own on the road to work or college – the delays are the most common. financially penalize.
“Young drivers pay between 300 and 600 euros in additional insurance premiums because they don’t have their license,” Hehir continued.
He said there was good news in that several insurers are now offering discounts of up to 20% on premiums to young drivers who have completed their courses, as insurers have realized that many drivers learner’s permit holders have taken all of their lessons and are said to have succeeded. their tests if they could have passed them.
“However, despite this small victory for young drivers, the problems persist and without further intervention the extended wait times are expected to continue and be frustrating until next year,” he explained.