Driving instructor says driving and theory test backlog could take up to three years to fix
There are currently over 120,000 people waiting to take the theory test.
Irish driving instructor Kevin Horgan from Ladybird Driving School in Dublin has said that the backlog of driving tests could take between two to three years to fix.
There are currently over 60,000 people waiting to do their driving test and over 120,000 people waiting to do their theory test in Ireland due to a backlog created by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Speaking on Ireland AM on Thursday, Horgan said that even if the nearly 70,000 people waiting to take the theory test passed it today, it would be unlikely that they would be able to get on the roads until after 2022.
"The logistics behind it are, that we have about 180,000 candidates waiting to do the driving test, and we've got about 70,000 waiting to do the theory test," he said.
"If the theory test candidates pass their test today, by law they can only sit their test in six months time - which will be January, February, March, next year.
"That's the 70,000 doing the test in 2022. So then we've got the 180,000 who are waiting to get a date for their test and they're held up capacity-wise because they just don't have the date yet with the RSA."
Horgan added that while the Department of Transport has issued measures to try and improve the situation, there is still a significant lack of instructors within the country.
The instructor is also calling on the Government to allow non-essential workers to begin driving lessons and tests again.
"Across the country, there is not enough instructors actually, there are about 1,750 instructors in total, but about 1,000 are full time so we need to address that," he continued.
"We're just calling for the non-essentials to be allowed back as well."
Last month, the Road Safety Authority (RSA) opened online theory tests for people who are sitting exams to get a learner permit for a bus or a truck.
However, the assessments will expand to include theory tests for cars in the coming months.
RSA Spokesman Brian Farrell told MidWest Radio that they are hoping to accommodate 4,000 tests a month, but are still hoping to reopen physical test centres in the near future.
"We hope to have a monthly output of about 4,000 tests a month, but it won't be until later in the year that we can accommodate significant numbers of online theory tests," he said.
"That's why it really is the reopening of the actual physical test centres, where we can deliver 50,000 tests a month, that the solution lies for the theory tests."
From 10 May ‘essential workers’ have been allowed to undertake Essential Driver Training (EDT) lessons with an Approved Driving Instructor.
EDT lessons apply to any essential workers as well as people who already began their lessons before new restrictions came into place.