There are almost 26,000 learner drivers waiting for their driving test, but no date has been set for the reopening of the Driver Testing Service. 

That 26,000 is made up of over 14,500 driving tests, which were cancelled in March due to the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as nearly 11,500 learners who have applied for tests since March as applications have been open since then.

The Department of Transport said the resumption of driver testing raises particular problems in terms of compliance with the National Return to Work Safety Protocol. 

It particular there are issues of compliance with social distancing rules, as it requires the driver tester and the candidate to be within a two metre distance continuously for a period in excess of 20 minutes, in a very confined space, which is not in itself a workplace under the control of the Road Safety Authority.

The department also said on a very preliminary appraisal of the National Return to Work Safety Protocol, car driving tests may have to be the last of the statutory functions, for which the RSA is responsible, to recommence in line with the Government's roadmap to lifting Covid-19 restrictions.

This could mean that driving tests may resume as part of the final phase, which is Phase 4 on 20 July. 

Minister for Transport Shane Ross previously said he saw the possibility of truck, bus and motorcycle testing resuming in Phase 3, on 29 June.

During the pandemic driving tests have still been carried out for emergency service drivers, and tests are available for those who need a test urgently. 

The RSA said tests can only be prioritised for people who work with the emergency services (in the bus and truck categories only) for example, the Ambulance Service, Fire Service, Civil Defence, medical professionals and critical supply chain HGV drivers. 

Managing Director of Irish School of Motoring Karl Walsh said before driving tests were cancelled, there was on average a six week waiting list for a test date, but he estimates the waiting list will at least double when tests resume.

Learner drivers must be accompanied by a person holding a full driving licence for at least two years.

Since 22 December 2018, car owners who allow learner drivers to use their car unaccompanied will face fines of up to €1,000, up to six months in prison, or could have their vehicles seized., following the implementation of the so-called Clancy Amendment.

Latest figures from gardaí show the number of vehicles seized from unaccompanied drivers under the Clancy Amendment is over 1,200 vehicles, up to 11 June.

Around 300 of those vehicles were seized in May and the first week in June.Just over 1,300 vehicles were seized under the Clancy Amendment from January to June in 2019.

Minister Ross has said that any learner permits which were due to expire from 1 March to 30 June inclusive have had their period of validity extended by four months.