It’s not a great time to be a learner driver.
Despite Government assurances that the driving test backlog created by the lockdown would be cleared within 15 weeks, a broker specialising in insuring young drivers has rubbished that timeline, warning that the wait is likely to exceed 18 months.
While the Minister for Transport, Eamon Ryan, said he is confident that the backlog could be resolved before Christmas, online motor insurance broker Coverinaclick.ie contend that, for those just starting out with the process, the wait to get fully licensed could be considerably longer, costing them a pretty penny in insurance in the interim.
Young drivers are paying between €300 and €600 extra in insurance premiums as a result of not having full license.
“The size of the challenge in dealing with this backlog cannot be underestimated,” said Jonathan Hehir, Managing Director at Coverinaclick.ie.
“Certainly, some recent claims by the Minister on the likelihood of wait times reducing in the short-term warrant a closer look. From our calculations, based on the 96,000 motorists currently waiting to take their driving test, coupled with the 120,000 awaiting a theory test, and allowing for the average pass rate off 55% – those now starting the process could be waiting for up to 18 months.
According to the Minister, there is the potential to test 4,881 people per week.
“Combining the total number awaiting a theory test and those awaiting a driving test – 216,000 – means it would take approximately 44 weeks to clear the waiting lists at that rate of weekly testing,” said Hehir.
“And that’s assuming all those drivers pass their test the first time.”
Discounts for young drivers
There is some good news in that insurers are now offering discounts of up to 20% on premiums to young drivers who have completed their lessons.
“Several insurers have realised that many drivers on learner permits have done all of their lessons and would have passed their tests if they had been able to sit them, and so are offering us discounts of up to 20% to those that have completed the lessons.” Mr. Hehir concluded.
“However, notwithstanding this small win for young drivers, the issues remain and without some further intervention, the extended waiting times look set to continue, and to frustrate, well into next year.”