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Government Unveils Plans: Learner Drivers Required to Take Driving Test for Permit Renewal

In a bid to address road safety concerns, the government is considering a new regulation that would require learner drivers to take the driving test each time they renew their permit. The proposed measure, targeted to be implemented by the end of the year, aims to tackle the issue of individuals repeatedly renewing their learner permits without undergoing the driving test. Approximately 30,000 individuals are currently on at least their third learner permit, as reported by the Road Safety Authority.

Junior Minister for Transport Jack Chambers stated that the reform is designed to serve as an incentive for learner drivers to actively complete the driving test. Under the current system, learners can renew their permits by merely booking a test, leading to what Chambers referred to as an “anomaly” that needs addressing.

Chambers emphasised that many people treat the learner’s permit as if it were a full licence, and the proposed reform intends to rectify issues within the system next year. As part of the initial steps, the government aims to reduce the waiting times for driving tests for learner drivers. The goal is to bring down the waiting period to 10 weeks by the middle of 2024.

The proposed changes are part of the broader Road Traffic Bill 2023, recently approved by the Cabinet, which includes provisions for drug testing at the scene of accidents, reforming penalty points, and reducing speed limits. The bill is set to navigate through the legislative process, with Chambers expressing a desire to expedite its passage through the Oireachtas.

With a focus on improving road safety, the government is responding to concerns about the rising number of fatalities on Irish roads. In 2023 alone, 181 people have lost their lives in road accidents, an increase compared to 155 in 2022 and 141 in 2019. Chambers specifically highlighted concerns about the safety of pedestrians and cyclists on Irish roads.

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