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DUP Strangford MLA and Chair of the Assembly’s Infrastructure Committee Michelle McIlveen has warned that without a viable and practical plan for tackling the backlog in driving tests when the current period of restrictions ends, the impact will be felt by communities across Northern Ireland well after the pandemic is over.

Commenting, Ms McIlveen said:

‘‘The Driver and Vehicle Agency (DVA) has confirmed that 35,880 fewer driving tests were conducted in Northern Ireland in 2020 than in 2019. To make matters worse, with general booking still suspended, the total number of applications have fallen by around 45% since the pandemic began.

This not only represents an astonishing loss of service but points to thousands of learners across Northern Ireland who are unable to book or take their test, secure their licence and finally get on the roads.

Without an ambitious and sustained strategy for expanding services to meet this backlog once restrictions are lifted, it is clear that this crisis will have serious consequences for the economy and young people’s lives. This will be even more apparent as our society starts to gradually return to normal.

Minister Mallon and her officials must publish an action plan for addressing this soaring demand for driving tests. This should happen before the end of the current six-week period of restrictions in order to ensure there is no further unacceptable delay to scaling-up these services.’’

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