High driving test failure rate across county
Almost 70 per cent failure rate in Gorey in one week but overall pass rate above average
County Wexford appears to have a high driving test failure rate according to figures viewed by this newspaper.
For the week ending Saturday, August 18, this year 57.42 per cent of those who undertook a driving test at the county's two centres in Wexford town and Gorey failed. The failure rate in the Wexford town centre was 41.1 per cent while the figure for the centre in Gorey was significantly higher with 67.7 per cent of those tested failing to pass.
The pass rate for the two centres for the same period in August was 58.9 per cent (Wexford) and 32.25 per cent (Gorey)
For the week in question 117 people were appointed a driving test date and of those 43 passed, 58 failed and 12 didn't turn up. An additional four tests couldn't be completed due to an issue with the vehicles or documentation.
A spokesperson for the RSA told this newspaper that the pass rate for the year to-date in Gorey is 54 per cent which is higher than the national average.
'Taking data for one week, given that the number being tested are low, is not usually representative of the overall picture,' said the spokesperson.
However, the figures contrast starkly with some other areas in the country; in Donegal the pass rate for the same week in August was almost 80 per cent.
The pass rate for Gorey in 2017 was 55.92 per cent while the Wexford centre recorded a pass rate of 55.07 per cent last year.
At present there are 83,862 people waiting on a driving test and of those over half [45,380] are still awaiting a test date to be allocated to them.
The issue of waiting times was highlighted by Independent Senator Victor Boyhan who raised the matter with Minister for Transport Shane Ross TD and highlighted that of the people who are currently waiting to sit their driving tests across the country some are having to wait up to six months for a date.
According to the Road Safety Authority the average waiting time in the Wexford town centre for a test is 14.5 weeks with the longest wait being 16 weeks.
In the Gorey centre the longest waiting time is 26 weeks, however the average waiting time there is 14.7 weeks. The Gorey centre, along with that in Killarney, has the dubious distinction of having the longest waiting time for car tests in the country outside of Dublin.
However, the averages relate to current waiting times and the RSA says the length of time applicants will have to wait is dependent on the number of applicants awaiting tests at any particular time. As a result applicants may experience longer and shorter waiting times than the centre-specific averages.
The RSA says its target is to achieve an average waiting time of 10 weeks.
Senator Boyhan is calling on the Minister to take action on the matter and sanction more testers to help cut down on waiting times.
There are currently 98 full-time testers nationwide but 10 testers retired this year to-date and two more are also due to retire later in the year.
County Wexford was allocated one new additional tester last month - to Wexford town - and the RSA spokesperson said this will have a significant affect on waiting times in the county.
'The new driver tester will be based in Wexford and this will enable up to 1,700 extra car tests to be undertaken in a full year,' he said.
'It must be borne in mind, however, that a driver tester located in any given test centre may be deployed to neighbouring centres from time-to-time,' added the spokesperson.
In his correspondence with Minister Ross, Senator Boyhan said the delays have reached crisis point - especially in view of people preparing for third level college.
'Many young people and families are now preparing for the new third-level term and getting back to work routines,' he said.
'Young drivers need to be facilitated to get their full licence to support their mobility,' he added.
The Senator also pointed out that with high rents many young people are now commuting long distances to college or work.
'They need to be able to drive independently,' he said.
Senator Boyhan said Minister Ross and the RSA needs to look at decreasing the high failure rate which he said it contributing significantly to the waiting time backlog.
'If the Minister is serious about tackling this issue and also enabling people on a first learner's permit to progress readily to a full licence - he needs to immediately sanction more testers and resources.'