Nation's worst driver failed test 20 times
Mystery motorist trying to earn licence for 16 years
It's official -- the country's worst driver is a man.The unfortunate driver is still trying to pass the driving test -- after failing 20 times in a 16-year period.
Despite the old stereotypes about dangerous women drivers, it was confirmed last night by the Road Safety Authority (RSA) that the unnamed driver is a man who first sat the driving test in 1994.
He has failed at every attempt to pass it since -- most recently in February this year. At his first attempt, the driver was aged 38 and is now aged 54. The driver even did the test at a different location -- but still failed.
However, he is still legally entitled to drive on the roads on his learner permit as long as he is accompanied by a driver who has a full licence for two years or more.
The man has also paid an estimated €760 in fees for his 20 driving tests --based on the fact that the driving test fee remained at around €38 from 1992 until it was increased to €75 last year.
RSA chief executive Noel Brett confirmed to the Dail's Public Accounts Committee that this man has the highest level of recurring driving test failures of any driver in the country. The RSA said it would not release any further details about the man to protect his privacy.
Mr Brett told the Irish Independent yesterday that the vast majority of people passed their driving test while on their first learner permit. But there were some people who, for various reasons, were unable to pass their driving test, he said.
"We have people in their 80s passing their test for the first time, so it's not an ageism thing," he said.
He said the RSA was taking steps to help those who had failed their driving test three times or more -- including the provision of a driving supervisor.
"But there is no free pass because people are going out to share the road. They must demonstrate all of the (driving) competencies required," he said.
And Mr Brett said the best advice he could give to drivers who repeatedly failed their test was to take driving lessons from a qualified instructor -- which will be mandatory for all learner drivers from next April.
"When they tell you that you are ready, make an application for your test," he said.
Fianna Fail Laois-Offaly TD Sean Fleming, who had asked the RSA for details on the driver with the highest failure rate, said he was sympathetic to the individual concerned.
"It might be the person just doesn't know their right from their left and the straight from the reverse. But if the person is a menace on the road, they shouldn't be on the road," he said.
There are currently more than 22,000 drivers who have had five or more learner permits -- meaning they have failed their driving test at least four times. But Mr Brett said this number was down from 39,000 two years ago. "We have made significant progress in reducing the number of people on long-term learner permits," he said.
Under the current system, drivers can receive an unlimited number of learner permits as long as they sit the driving test every two years.
The RSA has contacted 2,600 drivers aged over 65 in the past 18 months who have failed their test three times or more to offer them advice and support.
The average waiting time for a driving test, which was once up to 62 weeks, is now 8.6 weeks.