DUP Strangford MLA and Chair of the Assembly’s Infrastructure Committee Michelle McIlveen has asked the DfI Minister to clarify when young people can start booking and complete their practical driving tests.
Commenting, Ms McIlveen said:
“Practical driving tests stopped five months ago in March. Rather than recommence them on 1 September, young people can’t actually even make a booking until 1 September.
In 2018/19 there were on average 4,700 tests per month that means there is possibly 23,000 people waiting to get their full license. At this moment in time they cannot even make an online booking. It is a scandal.
The Minister has extended the expiry date on theory tests but we need to have a detailed plan about how practical tests will be completed. The plan should detail how many tests the Minister envisages before Christmas, how many test examiners will be available from September to December and how she plans to prioritise who gets their test first.
These are young people who need their licence for everyday activities such as work, study and pleasure. There can be little doubt that this disappointment will be felt most acutely among young people who have already sacrificed so much as part of our response to Covid-19. For many, what should have been an exciting time of change in their lives has been sadly overtaken by distress and uncertainty.
To cause further worry, there are rumours of another delay beyond 1 September. Any further setback will come as a bitter blow to learners across Northern Ireland who understandably demand to see progress.
The Minister for Infrastructure has a duty to right the wrongs of her Department’s mishandling of this process and give clarity moving forward.”