Foley Says Rural Learner Drivers Especially Affected By Driving Tests Backlog

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Deputy Norma Foley.

KERRY Fianna Fáil TD, Norma Foley, says the Transport Minister needs to outline the government’s plan for dealing with the backlog of provisional licences and driving tests, which is continuing to build up during the Coronavirus restrictions.

Deputy Foley said; “Learner drivers here in Kerry, particularly in rural areas, are very frustrated with the current situation. Some younger drivers had hoped to get their provisional licence at the beginning of the summer so that they could help out on local and family farms. Without their licences they’re unable to drive tractors or other farm machinery.

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“Another cohort of learner drivers may have been dependent on older relatives to act as their qualified driver, but with some parents having to cocoon, these drivers have been left in the lurch. They’re worried about how long the will have to wait before they can get their test and get back in their cars again. Access to a car is hugely important in a rural county like Kerry.

“Driving tests were suspended when the government implemented the COVID-19 restrictions back in March, so people with learner permits have been unable to sit their tests for around 8 weeks now. Despite the suspension of the tests, applications are still being processed, which will inevitably lead to bigger backlogs once they resume again.

“The average waiting time for a driving test before the COVID restrictions was 4 weeks, and with new applications being submitted over the past two months, learner drivers could be waiting months once the tests resume.

“Young people have already been asked to make considerable sacrifices to fight the spread of COVID-19, and many are facing into considerable uncertainty in terms of school, work and other aspects of their life. I believe the Department needs to begin examining options to alleviate the backlog of provisional licence and driver test applications,” concluded Deputy Foley.

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