Anyone remember the introduction of new restrictions on driving on a provisional license last October Bank holiday weekend? It generated loads of topics last on pi.ie at the time and it prompted the creation of the first campaign area for politics.ie. Well, the May bank holiday is behind us and the June bank holiday is fast approaching and that means the issue will be back with us all inside a few weeks. The deadline that Minister Dempsey set himself was the end of June for the full introduction of the new measures. Measures that by and large the vast majority of people around the country support. The problem was entirely with the manner of their introduction. One of the criteria for the introduction of the measures at the end of June was and I'm quoting from the RSA here "By the end of June 2008 all applicants for a driving test will be able to get a test on demand (within 10 weeks)." On demand, within ten weeks. See that, you demand something and you get it within ten weeks. So are they there yet?
The most up to date average times for getting a test would appear to suggest we are some way off that target of everyone getting a test within ten weeks. 15 of the 48 test centres are over the 10 weeks upper limit. Indeed 12 of them are more than 50% over the average.
There was something about that average number which intrigued me. How are they calculating it I wonder? It's not by treating all the centres as if they handled the same amount of people is it? Because that would be plain silly. Yet, it seems that is how they are doing it. The average time is calculated by summing the waiting times for each test centre and then dividing by the total number of test centres. That approach would be fine if each test centre was dealing with the same volume of tests but since we appear to have just 4 test centres for Dublin, while 2 for Kerry and even 3 for Galway I'm guessing those volumes at each of these sites aren't the same. So the magic figure quoted at the bottom of the report of 10.5 weeks average wait time is not the average time a person will be waiting. We are meant to be talking about the average wait time per person. And for that you need to fact in the number of people processed at each location. There again a failure to think of people is what has us in this mess in the first place.
Also, in the world of letters from employers and such like to expedite the process some folks get tested much earlier than the average at present. Since we are still dealing with averages that means for every person that gets the test in 2/3 weeks where the average is in fact 10 weeks that some other poor eejit must be waiting for 17/18 weeks for the sums to be correct. Or perhaps there are two people getting it in 13.5/14 weeks but you see where I'm going with this. The average wait time is plainly not at the 10 weeks barrier that Dempsey set for himself. 10 weeks was to be the outer limit not the average. A 10 weeks average is explicitly not the target that the RSA and Dempsey set themselves they said "The Government has already committed itself to providing the necessary finance to the Road Safety Authority to ensure that all 122, 000 applicants currently on the waiting list will have been tested by early March 2008. This will have eliminated the current backlog as promised. By the end of June 2008 all applicants for a driving test will be able to get a test on demand (within 10 weeks)."
I should say that I don't personally view getting a test within 10 weeks as being on demand but since it is the measure Dempsey set himself it's only fair to start by measuring him against his own goal. On demand in my view would be 2/3 weeks max. I'm guessing the true average wait time is more than the 10.458 weeks you get if you divide the sub totals by the total number of test centres.
So the questions are
Have all those 122,000 sat the test since last October?
How much extra cash was splashed to sort out the problem of the backlog?
How long is the back log now?
What is the true average wait time per person nationally?
Update: I had started this last week back and was just finishing it when I read this in the Indo today. Seems the RSA is back-pedalling faster than ice cream melts in the lovely weather we're having.