Gradual re-opening of the driving test service in Phase 3 of easing of COVID-19 restrictions

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Young woman adjusting a rear-view mirror in the car
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THE driver testing service will restart on a gradual basis during Phase 3 of the road map for easing of COVID-19 restrictions outgoing Minister for Transport, Shane Ross and the Road Safety Authority (RSA) have confirmed.

Providing an update on when learner drivers can expect to sit car tests Mr Ross said that following the publication of the accelerated phases of reopening, “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,” he said, adding, “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.”

The former Minister for Transport said things would be “different” when the driving test resumes and the reopening of driving tests would be “gradual” with measures in place to protect staff and customers.

He said, “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.”

It was also announced the validity of learner permits would be extended as some learner drivers’ permits will expire before they are given the opportunity to sit the practical driving test.

Any permit due to expire between March 1 to June 30 inclusive, would be extended by four months the then minister announced in April this year.

“The effect of that extension meant that their expiry now falls during the months from July to October,” he said.

The extension would provide “at least some of those” to take the practical exam without having to renew their learner permit. He announced the four-month extension would now apply to all learner permits due to expire from July 1 to October 31.

He said, “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 today, Monday, June 29.

Mr Ross 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.”