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Thousands of learners languish on Laois Offaly test list  - nearly 1,000 waiting in Portlaoise

Offaly is home to nearly 9,000 learner drivers

Laois Offaly has over 4,000 learner drivers waiting for tests

Thousands of people are waiting to sit a driving test in Laois Offaly with more than a quarter of the L plate drivers languishing on a list in Laois.

The figures were published by local Sinn Féin TD Brian Stanley who called on the Minister for Transport, Eamon Ryan TD, to take decisive action to tackle the backlog. He outlined the figures.

“The Road Safety Authority (RSA) confirmed to Sinn Féin that there are a total of 2675 learner drivers awaiting a test in Tullamore, Birr and Portlaoise, and over 92,000 people waiting across the state. 907 applicants are waiting in Tullamore, 770 in Birr and a massive  998 in Portlaoise.

"The RSA has confirmed to me that there are now 92,210 people in the State waiting for a driving test, with some constituents telling me they will be forced to wait months for a test date,’’ he said.

Dep Stanley, who is chairman of the Dáil Public Accounts Committee, said action is needed at the Government level.

“Throughout 2020 we called on Minister Shane Ross and the new Minister Eamon Ryan TD, to address the worsening crisis. Neither took the problem seriously and the situation has now greatly worsened. In fact, the number of people waiting for a test has increased by 70% since June of this year.

“With public transport down to 25% capacity and sharing of lifts not feasible due to Covid, this is causing massive problems for people who need a licence to get to work. It’s a huge issue for people in rural parts of Laois and Offaly, where public transport simply isn’t an option. The problem is particularly bad in several parts in Laois and Offaly.

“There is a clear need for additional driving instructors and testers. Likewise, longer opening hours and weekend tests would go some way to address the lengthening backlog.

"The Minister needs to urgently consult with instructors, testers and their unions to find a way forward to accelerate the number of tests that can be carried out safely over the coming months. In addition, the driver theory test is still suspended, causing further delays for those learning to drive," said the TD.

Dep Stanley called for online driver theory tests to be extended to all categories of learner drivers, to help deal with the growing backlog of those learning to drive.

He also said the Driver Theory Test Service are currently providing remote theory tests for bus, truck, CPC and ADI categories. He said this is a welcome development and should be expanded to those learning to drive a car.

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