The wait for young drivers to take to Irish roads as fully-licensed drivers looks set to continue for some time to come, despite the RSA stepping up their efforts to deal with waiting-lists and in the face of recent assurances from the Minister for Transport, Eamon Ryan, that the backlog could be resolved within 15 weeks.
Leading online motor insurance broker Coverinaclick.ie, which specialises in insuring young drivers, contend that, for those just starting out with the process, the wait to get fully licensed could be as long as 18 months.
Jonathan Hehir, Managing Director at Coverinaclick.ie, explained, “The size of the challenge in dealing with this backlog cannot be underestimated. Certainly, some recent claims by the Minister on the likelihood of wait times reducing in the short-term warrant a closer look. From our calculations, based on the 96,000 motorists currently waiting to take their driving test, coupled with the 120,000 awaiting a theory test, and allowing for the average pass rate off 55% - those now starting the process could be waiting for up to 18 months.
"According to the Minister, there is the potential to test 4,881 people per week. Combining the total number awaiting a theory test and those awaiting a driving test - 216,000 - means it would take approximately 44 weeks to clear the waiting lists at that rate of weekly testing. And that’s assuming all those drivers pass their test first time. The pass rate stands at about 55%, so almost half those taking the test will have to re-apply, thereby extending the time it would take to fully clear the numbers to approximately 80 weeks. This again is based on the unlikely assumption that all the repeat testers pass the second time round, and that no-one else applies for a driving test in the next 80 weeks.
"Based on this, we would say that the actual estimates involved in clearing the backlog are in sharp contrast with the Minister’s Dail statement on the 17th of June that the waiting list could be eliminated within 15 weeks.”
The following comments from the Minister have been scrutinised by Coverinaclick.ie
"Assuming a successful return to seven tests per tester per day and with the 40 testers already approved, the capacity of the system will be 4,881 tests per week. If we are still at six tests per tester when the 40 testers begin, that figure will be 4,183. At this point, there are approximately 72,000 people eligible to take a test. With 4,881 tests weekly, it should be possible to clear that backlog in 15 weeks, allowing for those testers doing seven tests per day.”
Mr. Hehir continued, “The 72,000 awaiting the test that the Minister referred to has already ballooned to 96,000. So, from what we have seen at the coalface, this target seems unrealistic. Beyond the frustration and knock-on consequences for young drivers - many of whom are living in rural areas and need a full license so that they can drive on the road unaccompanied to get to work, college etc. - the delays are hitting them financially. Young drivers are paying between €300 and €600 extra in insurance premiums as a result of not having their license and the situation since 2020 has meant that thousands of drivers throughout the country have missed out on these significant savings on their policies because securing your full licence is a sure-fire way to push down your premiums.”
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