New practices and technology could be used to tackle the massive backlog of driving test applications which have piled up in the Covid-19 crisis a Galway TD has said.
Michael Fitzmaurice said it is “unacceptable” that over 25,000 applicants for the driving test have been left in “limbo” in the current crisis.
This is despite the fact that many who are on a provisional licence had already completed the required training with an instructor before Ireland went into lockdown.
Back in April the government announced that driving licences and learners permits which were due to expire between March 1 and June 30 have been automatically extended by four months.
This was after Minister for Transport Shane Ross ordered the suspension of most RSA services until further notice on March 28.
However, Deputy Fitzmaurice said that extending the duration of a provisional licence still presents difficulties for people travelling regularly.
“Many of these applicants are depending on this licence to ensure that they can travel to work.”
“As it stands, they have to be accompanied by a qualified driver as they only have a provisional licence,” Michael Fitzmaurice.
“But this isn’t always possible and some people may have to break this rule if they want to get to and from work, particularly in rural Ireland where public transport isn’t as widely available as it might be in urban areas.”
The difficulty with carrying out driving tests is the problem of having two people in such close proximity in a car, and how that can possibly be squared with social distancing requirements we’ll be living with for some time.
It was suggested that the driving test for cars could follow a similar pattern to how motorbike tests are carried out, with the applicant given a copy of the route, and the instructor following in another car, giving instructions via headset or bluetooth speaker.
A GoPro or similar camera could be used to allow the instructor to view the driver’s skills and behaviour inside the car.
“Technology is available which can assist with this issue, but we must be willing to take advantage of the opportunity.”
“Otherwise, the backlog is only going to get worse and applicants will be forced to way for months on end to get an opportunity to sit the test,” Fitzmaurice concluded.