Learner drivers in Inishowen are facing a five month wait to sit their driving test.
The RSA national average waiting time is 12 to 14 weeks, but the waiting time at the part time test centre in Buncrana is at least 20 weeks. If a learner fails their driving test, they face another 20 week wait, meaning it could be almost a year until they get their full licence.
Councillor Nicholas Crossan said this was a “very important” issue in Inishowen, as residents are heavily dependent on cars.
“People have to travel to work or school, and if they are on a provisional licence they need to have a fully licenced driver with them, which doesn’t make economical sense.
“I would ask the RSA to speed up the waiting times in Inishowen. If you fail, you are automatically put to the back of the queue, which means another 20 week wait at least. Something has to be done.
“A problem with the long waiting times is that it could lead to people taking a chance and driving on their provisional without a fully licenced driver. It’s very unfair, rural Ireland is being discriminated against,” he said.
One driving instructor from Buncrana said the situation “has been getting progressively worse”.
“It is a bad situation, and people are complaining to us about it. It can cost a learner driver a lot of money if they want to keep up their driving during the time they are waiting for their test.
“The Buncrana test centre is only a part time centre, open two weeks out of every four or five weeks.
“From an instructors point of view, they don’t have the testers to keep up with the demand,” he said.
The driving instructor also urged learner drivers to make their frustration known to the RSA. “If they don’t receive complaints, they won’t fix the problem,” he added.
A spokesperson for the RSA said there is an “overall increase in demand from customers for the driving test”. “This combined with a number or recent retirements of driver testers has resulted in waiting times increasing. “To meet increased demand the RSA has recently recruited, trained and deployed 10 new driver testers. We continue to monitor demand to make sure we have the capacity to meet any further increase in applications. The RSA will prioritise any urgent requests for a test and also use cancellations that arise in the test schedule to facilitate urgent requests.”