Learner drivers across the country are facing average waiting list times of 19 weeks for their driving tests, with the longest waits being in Galway’s Westside test centre, with waits of up to 39 weeks.
Loughrea’s learner drivers are left waiting 30 weeks for a test. Galway’s Carnmore testing centre follows with waits of 21 weeks, with Tuam coming in fourth for the county with a 20 week waiting period.
According to the Road Safety Authority, 50,000 learner drivers are eligible to sit their driving test. The majority of these are waiting for available test appointments or have just been called to book their test. Some learner drivers are waiting until August or September for their test slots.
Another issue faced by learner drivers is that when they are invited to book a test, they face a further wait of over a month at times.
One Galway student has explained how she had booked her driving test at the start of January and has been left waiting until the end of May at the earliest for a slot in the Tuam test centre. Another student had booked her test in August of last year, but her test was not arranged until December.
The lack of available driving tests is also having a knock-on effect for students who are commuting to university due to the shortage of affordable accommodation in Galway city. Some towns and villages that are close to the city have little to no transport options available to them.
Seán Canney, TD for Galway East suggested that the RSA should “put more testers on and employ some external qualified testers to clear the backlog.”
Mr Canney also described what he has witnessed regarding students struggling to secure a driving test slot: “I have come across some cases where students need the licence in order to go to college as the cost of accommodation is out of control. Especially students living close to the city but with no public transport.”
Éamon Ó Cuív, TD for Galway West detailed that he “would like the Minister [of Transport] to insist on waiting times of less than four weeks and if necessary to provide the resources to achieve this.”
Catherine Connolly, TD for Galway West said that her “office has contacted the Road Safety Authority seeking clarification on the matter.” She also said that she “is very concerned to hear that there is a backlog for driving tests in Galway,” and has described the matter as “unacceptable”.
The RSA and Department of Transport have been asked to comment on this issue, but no response has been received thus far.