Woman had fatal heart attack in middle of driving test
Defibrillators to be installed at centres
DEFIBRILLATORS are to be installed in all driving testing centres after a woman suffered a fatal heart attack during her driving test.
She fell forward in the middle of the test and the tester had to grab the steering wheel to prevent the car from crashing.
Road Safety Authority (RSA) chief executive Noel Brett said yesterday that the "poor lady" had unfortunately died during the test, and her car ended up on the pavement.
"The tester tried to resuscitate her but he couldn't," he said.
Mr Brett said the RSA was planning to put defibrillators -- electronic devices that restore the heart rate by giving an electric shock -- in all of its 52 driver testing centres nationwide.
At the Dail's Public Accounts committee yesterday, Mr Brett also revealed that three of the State's driving testers were currently off work on sick leave after being injured in collisions during driving tests.
However, he said that most collisions during driving tests were not solo accidents -- they usually involved other drivers colliding with the learner driver.
"The learner is doing a manoeuvre and they come haring down the road and crash into the learner," he said.
Mr Brett said he had heard reports of driving testers refusing to perform a test because there was a smell of smoke in the learner's car.
But he said this was not grounds for test refusal. He pointed out that even though driving standards were improving -- there have been 20 fewer people killed on the roads compared to the same period last year -- there was still some way to go.
"Some 29 people have got penalty points for going the wrong way around roundabouts and they are all Irish licence holders," he said.
The committee heard that 22,000 of the 470,000 people on learner permits were "predominantly older drivers" on their fifth licence or more.
Mr Brett said that although this number had reduced by 15,000, many of the older drivers were anxious about taking their test.
"But to give them a full licence, they must demonstrate the standard," he said.
The average waiting time for a driving test is now 8.6 weeks, down from waiting times of up to 62 weeks several years ago.
But Mr Brett told the committee there were eight vacancies in the pool of 123 driving instructors and two vacancies among the seven driving test supervisers.
He said these could not be filled because of the public sector recruitment embargo, although funds were available.
Every driving instructor carries out eight tests a day in summer time and seven in winter time. This is an issue that the RSA is trying to address under the Croke Park agreement with the public sector unions.