Member for Morwell Russell Northe has expressed his concern that driver testing for Regional Victorians will experience further significant delays given current COVID-19 restrictions.
Mr Northe said he had been contacted by a number of local parents who were frustrated that their children’s learner permit test or probationary driver test had been cancelled with no reassurance of when the tests will be rescheduled.
“Of course, the health and well-being of Vic Roads staff and customers is paramount, but as has been expressed to me, it is disappointing that normal testing is not continuing with COVID-19 social distancing measures in place” said Mr Northe.
“Understandably, there are a number of Vic Roads transactions that can be completed through other means such as online; however, the cancellation of learner permit and probationary licence testing has caused significant consternation to many locals” Mr Northe said.
Even prior to the COVID-19 restrictions, frustrations were being expressed due to already lengthy delays in regards to learner and probationary driver testing, as changes to the testing regime meant that international drivers were given priority.
“Given the importance of one obtaining their learners permit or probationary licence, it does seem unusual that appropriate social distancing rules and initiatives can not be applied to allow these tests to be undertaken as per normal” Mr Northe said.
“Regional residents don’t have the same access to public transport options as our city and suburban counterparts, and therefore having a drivers licence to travel to work and for educational commitments is critically important” Mr Northe explained.
“Further delays to learner permit and probationary licence testing will have a significant impact upon many individuals and families and this issue needs to be resolved” Mr Northe said.
Mr Northe who is also Chair of the Latrobe L2P program, expressed concern that any delays to the testing regime might compromise the safety of learner drivers who are required to acquire 120 hours of driving hours prior to obtaining their probationary licence.
“We don’t want to see shortcuts being taken with drivers trying to cram in their required learner driving hours in a much shorter time-frame than we have been accustomed to” Mr Northe said.
The situation has been exacerbated by the closure of driving schools during the COVID-19 pandemic and therefore critical driving lessons are not being provided at this time.
Once restrictions are lifted, I really fear there will be significant waiting times in accessing a learner’s permit, driving lessons and probationary licences, and it seems unnecessary for this to occur.
Mr Northe has also written to the Minister for Roads seeking some certainty on when testing will resume and to seek a reassurance that there won’t be a massive backlog of testing that will take months to fix.