Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan has been called on to urgently increase the testing capacity for the driver theory test, with a reported backlog of over 100,000 people.
IFA farm business chair Rose Mary McDonagh said it could be assumed that thousands of essential workers were being prevented from securing a tractor licence due to the ongoing delays.
The Road Safety Authority (RSA) has announced that it is capable of providing only 4,000 online tests per month using an online ProProctor platform.
McDonagh said the limited number of online tests would not make any meaningful progress in addressing the backlog.
“To compound matters, the online platform is not compatible with mobile phones, tablets or Mac. To use the platform, a candidate must have access to a PC with Windows 8 or above and an internet connection with a minimum speed of 5mbps,” she said.
“It’s only a sticking plaster solution, with too many barriers to the significant roll-out that’s needed.
“The suspension until further notice of the Driver Theory Test being taken in-person along with the inadequate online platform is blocking many essential workers from obtaining a driving licence.”
In 2019, the RSA issued just 2,366 tractor learner permits. McDonagh said without these permits people could not carry out essential farm work or secure employment with contractors.
“We urgently need a permanent solution to increase capacity to meet demand and reduce the backlog,” McDonagh said.
“At the very least, the Government must initiate a major upgrade in the online platform to allow for greater capacity and compatibility with all devices.”