Fianna Fáil General Election candidate for Clare Cllr. Cathal Crowe has called on the Transport Minister to introduce a maximum waiting time for driving tests.

The latest RSA figures reveal that the average waiting time for a test at the Ennis centre is 15 weeks, while in Kilrush the figure is a staggering 20 weeks, with some people waiting up to 22 weeks.

Cllr. Crowe said, “The figures in Clare clearly highlight the need for urgent action on waiting times.  It is completely unacceptable that people are expected to wait up to 5 months for a driving test, especially people living in rural areas.

“Minister Ross gave a commitment to reduce driving test waiting times, but has failed to see this promise through.  While people in Dublin, who have a variety of public transport options open to them, may not have any issue waiting for their test, the reality for people living in rural areas, who are dependent on their car is very different.

“People living in Clare need their car to get from A to B.  Whether it’s to go for an appointment, visit a loved one, or even just to pop in to town to do the shopping, a car is a necessity.  Having to wait for months on end for a driving test when public transport is either non-existent or patchy is simply unacceptable.

“These lengthy waits also pose a real problem in the wake of the introduction of the Clancy amendment which gives power to the Gardaí to seize cars being driven by unaccompanied learner drivers.  Last week it emerged that 377 cars were taken under the new legislation.  My party has urged Minister Shane Ross to tackle driving test backlogs following the introduction of the new law, however no concrete action has been taken.

“This will only add to the stress and anxiety of learner drivers.  The fact that some learners are waiting 22 weeks for an appointment highlights the scale of the problem.

“The Minister cannot continue to neglect rural drivers – a maximum wait time should be introduced and resources need to be allocated to reduce these backlogs as a matter of urgency”, concluded Cllr. Crowe.