The Road Safety Authority (RSA) has taken in over €3 million in income from failed driving tests this year.
To be categorised as a failed driving test, an RSA spokeswoman said that a person must have sat their test and failed it.
This means that those whose learner permits may have expired pre-test or other ways of failure are not included in the €3.04 million figure.
“A failed driving test includes only those tests which have been scheduled, conducted and have failed to pass,” confirmed the spokeswoman.
The figures, obtained under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act, include the period spanning between the 1st March 2017 and the 29th September of this year.
Fadhila Hajji, 20, failed her driving test in April 2017. The exam cost her €85 but she failed due to her car breaking down during the exam.
She took her car to the mechanics before the exam. The test was going well until the last ten minutes when the engine would not turn on.
“Everything was going so smoothly. I was confident I was going to pass. I had ten minutes left of my test. Unfortunately, my car broke down. The engine would not turn on, I opened the bonnet to see if anything was faulty but everything seemed to be in perfect condition,” said Ms Hajji.
Eventually, her car turned back on but her signals weren’t working and the examiner said they should head back to the centre.
“We went back to the office. The examiner sat me down and he said ‘I won’t fail you but I would have to terminate your test due to what happened with the car’. Also, I would have to re-book my test and pay for it again.
“Things happen but I was disappointed due to the fact that he didn’t take into consideration what just happened and how well it was handled. Also, I had ten minutes left before my car broke down. By then I had done all of the requirements,” she said.
Ms Hajji said the incident made her “lose confidence” and she did not take her test again until September. She passed on her second time.
Money received from failed driving tests is one of the sources of income for the RSA and it is used primarily for costs associated with conducting the driving tests.
The money is primarily used to cover the costs “relating to scheduling and conducting each driving test” regardless of the outcome of the test, the RSA explained in response to the FOI request.
The RSA has a number of other income sources, said Kim Colhoun, the RSA’s Finance Manager.
Ms Colhoun explained that the RSA is a “statutory body that earns revenue from services provided to the public.”
“The main sources of revenue are driver licensing income, national car test levies, commercial vehicle test levies, digital tachograph income (driver cards used for the bus and truck category), approved driving instructor income, carriage [of] dangerous goods income and other miscellaneous income,” she said.
According to the RSA’s 2016 annual report, the Authority received €73.6m in ‘other resources’ that year, which included all the income the RSA received from the sources mentioned above by Ms Colhoun, as well as other income.
As the RSA is a state agency, its 2016 annual report showed that it received a grant of €139,000 from the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport. It received the same amount in 2015.
In 2016, the RSA received just over €4 million from employees for the pension scheme. A grant of €279,000 was given by the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport specifically to cover some of the RSA employee pensions.
The annual report notes that the Department will continue to pay a grant to the RSA employee pension schemes on a ‘pay as you go basis’.
The Road Safety Authority is a state agency which was founded in 2006 to promote road safety in Ireland.
By Hajar Akl and Leanne Salmon