The Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross and the Road Safety Authority (RSA) have confirmed that the driver testing service will restart on a gradual basis during Phase 3 of the road map for easing of Covid19 restrictions.
Providing an update on when learner drivers can expect to sit car tests the Minister said:
Following the publication of a revised Phase 3 road map for reopening Ireland, it is now possible to restart the testing of car drivers earlier than anticipated. This will be welcome news for the many learner drivers who have been waiting to sit a car test since the service was suspended on 13 March. While a specific date has not yet been finalised for the restart of car tests, this is a high priority for my officials and the RSA who have assured me that they are working towards getting car tests up and running, as soon as possible in Phase 3.
However, things will be different when the driving test resumes. It will be gradual, and measures will be put in place to protect staff and customers. This will mean that for all categories being tested, at least for the initial resumption period, everyone will have to get used to the new protocols to prevent the spread of Covid19. I am asking candidates to please be patient as the service resumes.
Given the nature of the driving test, which in many cases involves a tester and candidate sitting near each other for periods well in excess of 15 minutes, the reopening of the service must be done in accordance with Government Protocols and public health safety measures. These measures, the details of which will be supplied to all candidates attending a driving test, will have to be observed at all test centres when the service resumes. On this point I want to thank employees and worker representative groups inside the RSA as well as Union representatives who have engaged in a very constructive manner to approve these protocols which will protect customers and staff.
As the permits of some learner drivers will expire before they have had an opportunity to sit the practical driving test, Minister Ross has also announced that he is to further extend the period of validity of learner permits.
Minister Ross said:
On the 20April I introduced a measure which allowed the validity of any learner permit, which was due to expire from 1 March to 30 June inclusive, to be extended for four months. The effect of that extension meant that their expiry now falls during the months from July to October. To provide an opportunity for at least some of those to take a test without having to renew their learner permit I have decided to apply the four-month extension to all learner permits now due to expire from 1 July to 31 October. This also means that any learner permit which hadn’t benefitted from the original extension, but whose expiry now falls in the normal way during the period 1 July to 31 October 2020, will also have an extension period of four months applied to it. As an example, a learner permit which expired on 5 March was extended by four months to 5 July 2020 and this will now be further extended to 5 November 2020.
The resumption of driving tests will trigger the resumption of driving lessons. The revised Government road map for Phase 3 identifies Driving Schools as an economic activity and work that can resume from Monday 29 June.
The Minister concluded:
The measures being adopted, by the RSA to deliver the driving test, to mitigate the spread of Covid-19 should be of assistance to Approved Driving Instructors (ADIs). However, ADIs are independent contractors and have personal responsibility to follow Government and Health Authorities’ Protocols and it must also be borne in mind that a driving test and a driving lesson are not necessarily the same thing. Some driving lessons could last longer than the duration of a driving test and ADIs will need to take specific measures to manage Covid-19 in that context. Lastly I would urge all those seeking lessons to contact their ADI and be satisfied with the arrangements they are making – and I wish all those who will be taking tests in the near future the very best of luck.
Notes to Editor:
From Monday 29 June driving tests will resume gradually for trucks, buses and motorcycles (except for trucks in C1 and buses in D1 categories). 14 driving test centres will reopen initially, but as the number of tests and categories of vehicles being tested increases in the coming weeks, the remaining 38 test centres will reopen. The RSA will update its website, rsa.ie, to advise on each centre as they re-open.
Measures are being put in place to prioritise the allocation of appointments when the service resumes. These measures include;
- Those whose test appointments were cancelled when the service was suspended will be offered a test date first in the coming weeks and will be contacted directly about scheduling their test.
- Priority will also be given to ‘Front-line health care workers’ who require an emergency driving test.
- Test appointments will then be offered to people in order of when their application was made.
A detailed ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ (FAQ) document on the resumption of the driving test is available here.
The following test centres will reopen for truck, bus and motorcycle tests week commencing 29 June.- Dublin (Dun Laoghaire, Finglas, Mulhuddart), Dundalk, Ennis, Galway (Carnmore), Kilkenny, Kerry ( Tralee, Killarney ), Limerick (Dock Road), Sligo, Cork (Ballincollig, Mallow), Waterford. In the following weeks all the 52 test centres will open for business.
The national average waiting time for a driving test, before the suspension of the driving test service on 13 March, was around 5/6 weeks. The RSA has committed to maintaining a national average waiting time of 10 weeks.
Protocols that will be introduced in the driving test to prevent the spread of Covid19 include;
- Before appointments are offered candidates will be provided with information concerning COVID-19.
- Where a person is displaying symptoms of COVID-19 they should not attend for test and on advising us their appointment will be cancelled and a further appointment will be offered in due course free of charge.
- Customers are asked to make an extra effort to ensure that their vehicle is clean and free from any personal belongings. Having a safe and clean vehicle for the test is important for both customers and driver testers.
- In compliance with public health guidelines only customers for driving tests can enter the driving test centre. A candidate’s accompanying driver or approved driving instructor must make alternative arrangements while you take the test.
- Driver testers will wear a face mask and test customers will also be asked to wear face masks when attending for their appointment. The RSA will initially provide customers with a face mask and alternative arrangement will be put in place to accommodate those who cannot support the wearing of a mask.
- Hand sanitisers will be available in the test centre. Customers will be asked to use the hand sanitiser/use hand washing facilities on entry after being called for their test by the driver tester and also when fitting and removing their face mask.
- Driver testers will also be carrying wipes and hand sanitisers. Driver testers may wipe down some surfaces on a candidate’s vehicle.
- Customers may be asked to keep their windows partially open during the test and are asked to comply with any request to do so in the interest of measures to mitigate against the transmission of Covid-19.
- After each test the driver tester will ensure that all commonly touched surfaces such as door handles and desk surfaces are wiped down with appropriate wipes/cleaner in between tests and all wipes disposed.