“Instructors central to road safety in Ireland”
With over 90,000 applicants awaiting driving tests, trade union Unite – which represents driving instructors throughout Ireland – has called on the Road Safety Authority to engage collectively with instructors in order to clear the backlog once Level 5 restrictions are over. Pointing out that instructors have been seeking engagement with the RSA since June, Unite Regional Officer Jean O’Dowd called on the authority to “recognise that driving instructors are central to road safety”.
“Since the onset of the Covid-19 emergency, both the Road Safety Authority and the Department of Transport have refused to engage with basic demands being made by driving instructors in order to secure their safety, and that of learner drivers, during the pandemic. Instructors are classified as ‘essential workers’ and often work at close quarters with learners, yet they are still refused access to basic sanitary facilities in test centres.
“As the pandemic continues, Level 5 restrictions mean that driver theory test centres are closed and essential driver training lessons have been paused. These measures were necessary but have contributed to a testing backlog, with over 90,000 applicants now awaiting driving tests.
“Driving instructors will be critical to clearing this bottleneck. Both the Road Safety Authority and the Department of Transport must engage with instructors, through Unite, to ensure that all systems are in place to clear this backlog once the emergency is over and to identify priority candidates such as essential workers. That engagement must also focus on instructors’ demands for access to basic sanitary facilities.
“Engagement is key to keeping instructors and learners safe during this emergency, and to clearing the test bottleneck once the emergency is over. It is long past time for the Road Safety Authority and the Department of Transport to recognise that driving instructors are central to road safety in Ireland, and to treat them accordingly”, Ms O’Dowd concluded.