Learner drivers: be fully prepared before applying for your test slot
Big cut in waiting times catching thousands off guard
Alert: drivers who fail to prepare are preparing to fail
Waiting times for the driving test have dropped significantly in the last number of months.
So much so that the national average is now eight weeks.
They have not been that low for many years.
The RSA wants to keep the average to a maximum of 10 weeks.
The reason is that when candidates are called any earlier than 10 weeks, they tend to cancel or defer.
And that is because they have left themselves with insufficient time to prepare.
It's happening already as, in the course of one week alone, more than 2,400 tests were cancelled.
And they were not for medical reasons, it should be stressed.
So we are advising learner drivers to make sure they are well prepared for the test before they apply. That's because they are likely be offered a slot much sooner than has been the case up to now.
To give you an idea of how the timescale has been brought back to such levels it is worth noting that:
* 40 of the 50 driving test centres are running at 10-week waiting time or under;
* 16 centres are around six weeks or fewer.
The reduction is the result of additional resources being brought on board to tackle what once was a much longer waiting time.
We have recruited 76 driver testers since 2016 (52 started in 2018).
A further 14 began last month (March 2019) and an additional seven will take to the pitch next month.
That will bring the total number of driving testers to 160.
Of course, three new driving test centres coming on stream have also expanded testing capacity.
A new one opened in Galway last July 2018, while those at Mulhuddart and Dun Laoighaire are more recent additions.
We are now able to offer more than 5,000 tests a week.
However, some learner drivers are being caught off guard by how quickly they are being called.
They have not put in the necessary preparation to undergo and potentially pass their test.
We strongly recommend that you are ready to do the test when you apply.
Spend time learning the Rules of the Road and get lessons with an experienced driving instructor.
The best way to prepare is to undertake a course of lessons with an approved instructor.
Then when both he or she and you are confident that you're ready - then and only then - should you apply for your test.
I would also ask those drivers who are offered a test and who are unable to attend to please contact the RSA so we can offer the test slot to another candidate.
Almost 12pc of candidates simply don't show up for the test; with advance warning we could make those slots available to other people.
There are currently 244,627 learner permit holders.
A large proportion of them are on their first permit.
As such they are probably restricted by the mandatory lessons and six-months rules before they can take a driving test.
However, you cannot say the same for the more than 50,000 drivers on their fourth, or subsequent, learner permit.
It is hard to believe that 6,074 of these are on their eleventh, or successive, learner permit.
My message to them is that it's time to end long-term reliance on a learner permit and to come in for a driving test. You can't blame waiting times for sitting on a learner permit any longer.
If you need a test in a hurry we can schedule one for you.
For more information on waiting times, tips to pass the test, visit www.passthetest.ie.