Sunday 20 October 2019

Ross comes under fire over driver test backlog

Minister for Transport Shane Ross is demoralising and punishing young and rural drivers by new legislation aimed at tackling unaccompanied driving but doing absolutely nothing to ensure that there is enough staff in place at Ireland's driving test centres.

That's according to local Sligo Fine Gael activist Blaine Gaffney, who has said that "recent legislation changes aimed at cracking down on unaccompanied drivers has led to great amounts of stress and concern for many drivers this Christmas who have been waiting for months to receive a date for their full driving test due to the massive backlog in the system. In November, it was identified that 83,000 people were waiting for a driving test nationally, due mainly to a number of retirements from the company."

Gaffney said "My phone has been inundated with calls this week from concerned learner drivers who are worried about this legislative change and by people who wanted to find out what this will mean for provisional licence holders whilst they are waiting to receive a date for their driving tests in Sligo. Most of the people who have contacted me have to travel to work in the mornings and don't have the money for daily taxis or nearby bus times don't suit. They also have to use their cars to shop, to study or to attend sports events at times their parents or fully licensed driver are not available.

"Whilst they are waiting for over two and three months for a test date, what does Shane Ross think they should they do? Quit work or walk everywhere to avoid Garda fines and car impoundments as called for in this new legislation? Learner drivers need access to their full licence in order to support their mobility. If there is long delays in the system they will not be able to do this and it is difficult to understand how the Minister could introduce this legislation with such vigour at a time of a high backlog, whilst doing absolutely nothing to ensure that the long delays in the driving test system are addressed.

"I am calling on Minister Ross to urgently sanction the recruitment of more driving testers across the country to address this problem once and for all. We pay one of the highest road tax's in Europe, we drive on some of the lowest quality roads and in my opinion the least we should be entitled to is a driving test system that ensures that young and rural drivers can be tested in an acceptable time period before legislation aimed at cracking down on them is introduced."

Sligo Champion