CLARE Fine Gael TD Joe Carey has accused the Road Safety Authority (RSA) of failing to meet its service level agreement to provide driving tests within a ten-week period with some Clare applicants waiting more than eight months for an appointment.

Speaking in the Dáil last week, Deputy Carey said the long waiting times were a real problem, particularly for young people in rural parts of County Clare. 

“Some have been waiting more than six months to get a test and this is just not good enough. The target timeframe is ten weeks but the figures show that people in Clare are waiting a minimum of 19 weeks to get an appointment. 

“There are many examples of where a test date is nearly due and then the appointment is put back by another month or two,” Deputy Carey explained.

“This issue stems back to the fact that last year a cohort of 32 trained driver instructors who were employed on a temporary basis were not made permanent. We have a growing population and we have only 130 testers now. That number should be increased dramatically to try to reduce these figures.

Confirming that the average waiting time for a driving test in Kilrush is 15 weeks; 20 weeks in Ennis and 35 weeks in Shannon, Minister of State Jack Chambers described this as “completely unacceptable.”

“I accept that the current service does not meet what the public expects. If we are being honest, the service level agreement of ten weeks needs to be examined as well. Even ten weeks is too long as I am concerned. There is constant engagement with the RSA and they have increased the number of testers from 100 to 130. 

“All of County Clare is beyond the service level agreement time, but those in Shannon and Ennis in particular are waiting far in excess of what they should be. I will reflect Deputy Carey’s feedback to the RSA, which is deploying additional capacity in those areas where people are waiting longest,” Minister Chambers added.

Stating that he was encouraged by Minister Chamber’s comment that even a ten-week wait was not acceptable and that it needs to be reviewed, Deputy Carey added that more testers were needed to reduce the number of people on waiting lists. 

“There is a particular issue on the West Coast, particularly in County Clare, regarding the availability of testers. The fact that the RSA has committed to redeploy testers to areas where there are longer waiting lists, would indicate that Clare should be regarded as a priority for additional testers,” he concluded.