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Matthews calls for immediate return of Driver Theory Tests

Date: 19 May 2021

Green Party TD, Steven Matthews has called for an immediate return of driver theory tests to begin to tackle the backlog for those waiting for months on end to complete this step in acquiring their driver’s licence. Deputy Matthews said:

“I have been inundated with emails in recent months from predominantly younger people from across Wicklow who cannot understand the delays in getting to sit their driver theory test. This is an issue I first raised in the initial months of the pandemic and it’s hugely frustrating and confusing as to why the same issues persist over a year on.

“If universities and schools could operate entirely online for months on end, I cannot fathom why the theory test can’t be moved online, and rapidly. I have submitted a series of questions to the RSA throughout the pandemic and was always told that the online test was in the works and it was coming but it has now come to the point that ‘soon’ isn’t really good enough.

“This may not be an issue that is of huge concern to a lot of people but for those it does impact, it is a massive inconvenience in what is already a challenging and drawn out process in getting your driver’s license. This is an issue that predominantly impacts on younger people who are hoping to get the level of freedom that the drivers license offers and impacts those living in rural areas that are lacking public transport services more so than urban areas. While the initial delays are frustrating, they will also have longer term impacts on insurance premiums as they will have had their license for less time, be unable to build up no claims bonuses etc., so it isn’t as simple as just a delay.

“Even if we are to dismiss the possibility of doing the theory test online, not that we should but now that restrictions have started to be eased and you can get your haircut, children are in classrooms and we can shop in non-essential retailers, nobody has been able to explain to me why in person theory tests cannot take place. It cannot be beyond the realms of possibility to install plastic screens, require hand washing and social distancing at these test centres and any other measures required to ensure that staff and visitors are safe. If it’s possible in virtually every other aspect of our lives at the moment, why not this?

“I have written again to the Minister for Transport this week to reemphasise the urgency required in reopening the driver theory test centres. When it comes to discussing backlogs in driver testing, the focus is often on the driving test itself. I know there are huge efforts ongoing between the Department of Transport and the RSA in terms of hiring examiners and working on ways to reduce that backlog but this is another bottle neck in the system that isn’t going anywhere as long as theory test centres remain closed and delays in rolling out an online test persist. This needs to be addressed urgently, concluded Deputy Matthews.

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