The Road Safety Authority (RSA) has urged multiple learner permit holders, eligible to sit a driving test, to apply for one without delay. There are 41,316 people on their fourth or subsequent learner permit for a car or B category licence and of these people, 8,663 are on their tenth or successive learner permit.
Moyagh Murdock, RSA CEO said: “While we have seen an 11 per cent decrease in the number of people holding a fourth or more learner permit this year, it’s simply not enough. The practice of people continuing to drive on learner permits without ever taking a test is unacceptable and unnecessary in today’s circumstances, where the national average waiting time to take a test is just over six weeks.”
Ms Murdock added that the RSA and the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport are considering options to address this issue.
She said: “These options may include an increase in the cost of a permit; a decrease in the duration of a permit; a requirement to take mandatory lessons with an approved driving instructor or a requirement to take a driving test before another permit can be issued for a fifth and subsequent learner permit holder.
“We want to assure learner permit holders that if you’ve been waiting to take your driving test and are eligible to take one, there’s never been a better time than now to book it. Waiting times have been reduced to just over six weeks nationally and the RSA will prioritise any urgent requests for a test. Passing your test could mean lower insurance costs, and more importantly, make you a better, safer driver.”
Legislation introduced in December 2018 means that unaccompanied learner drivers and the owners of the car they drive face stiffer penalties. A vehicle being driven by an unaccompanied learner driver can now be detained by Gardaí and charges will apply to recover the vehicle.
Chief Superintendent Paul Cleary, Garda National Roads Policing Bureau, said: “Since the introduction of the new legislation last December, more than 1,600 vehicles have been impounded by An Garda Síochána from unaccompanied learner permit holders. Learner permit holders need to get the message that the learner permit is not a full licence and that they must be accompanied while driving by a fully qualified driver. They also must have ‘L’ plates on display at all times. Otherwise they risk penalty points, a fine and the car being impounded. The number of people detected without ‘L’ plates to date this year is 2,311 and that level of enforcement will continue. In addition, if the owner of a vehicle has knowingly allowed a learner permit holder to drive unaccompanied those owners may also face prosecution.”
The average waiting time for a driving test nationally is now just over six weeks. Since the start of 2018, 83 new driver testers have been recruited across the driving test service. In addition, four new driving test centres opened in 2018; those looking to sit their test can now access 53 test centres nationwide.
The RSA has also warned that the reduction in waiting times has meant that some learner drivers are being caught off guard by how quickly they are being called for a test, and have not put in the necessary preparation. They strongly recommend that learner drivers are ready to do the driving test when they apply. They should spend time getting any additional lessons with an experienced driving instructor and practice sessions in with a sponsor.
In conjunction with the new legislation being introduced last December, the RSA launched a one-stop information portal for applicants – www.passthetest.ie – where information on how to access the driving test service and prepare for the test is available.