Cork Sinn Féin TD Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire has today called for driver theory tests to be held online in a bid to tackle the backlog in Cork and the rest of Ireland.
Deputy Ó Laoghaire calls came as figures provided to him reveal 65,552 people nationally are now waiting to sit their driver theory test, in addition to 93,791 who are now waiting for the driving test itself.
Speaking on the issue, Deputy Ó Laoghaire said the Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan has failed to take decisive action to tackle the growing backlog.
“This is a huge waiting list that has doubled in the past few months.
“Many thousands of people in Cork are likely affected by this.
“Obviously Covid-19 has had a negative impact on those learning to drive, but a lack of action from Minister Eamon Ryan has made a bad situation worse,” the Cork South Central TD said.
“Although driving tests are still proceeding during Level 5, theory tests have been suspended.
“This is despite the fact that most theory test centres are built to keep people away from each other, in segregated cubicles.
“If authorities are adamant these tests cannot proceed safely, they should be put online.
“Other examinations such as university exams and the Law Society’s FE-1 exams are now taking place online securely, so there is no reason the 45-minute driver theory test cannot be sat virtually too.
“The computer programmes that prevent cheating for such online exams are there, so they should be utilised.
“We can’t have a situation where we have 160,000 people are now waiting for their driving test or driving theory test,” he continued.
Deputy Ó Laoghaire said the long waiting lists will pose a particular challenge to those living in rural Ireland.
“People need a driving license to get to work and drop kids to school and this is a particular challenge in rural Ireland where there are no public transport alternatives.
“A lack of action from Minister Ryan now is going to cause chaos in 2021, with people forced to wait months to sit their test,” he said.