EC takes Govt to court over driver testing
The European Commission is taking the Government to court for failing to introduce new laws on the training and testing of professional bus and truck drivers.
A directive on driver training was approved by MEPs and national governments four years ago, but Ireland has failed to transpose its measures into national law by the agreed deadline of September 2006.
Under the directive, all bus and truck drivers are supposed to undergo a mandatory special course of training and qualification, using either coursework and a test, or just a test.
Those who pass the test would receive a certificate of professional competence. In order to retain the certificate, drivers would have to undergo an additional 35 hours of training every five years.
The commission sent the Government a Reasoned Opinion - a final written warning - last June. But in a statement today the EC said no appropriate measures had been taken by the Government to comply with the directive, and so it was referring the case to the European Court of Justice.
The Department of Transport says it and the Road Safety Authority are confident that the enabling regulations and supporting structures for the implementation of the driver training certificate will be in place soon.
Labour MEP Prionsias de Rossa called for the Minster for Transport, Noel Dempsey, to explain why the measure has not been introduced into national law.
'This is an important road safety measure, and there is no excuse for the Government's failure in this regard. The Road Safety Authority has pointed out that there were 46 deaths and 80 serious injuries involving trucks or buses in 2005. Improving drivers skills will lead to fewer casualties on our roads.'
The Department of Transport says the RSA is working on the regulations needed to transpose the directive into Irish law. It says the RSA is awaiting legal advice from the Attorney General's office before forwarding the regulations to the Department of Transport, which will introduce the regulation.
The department says it is confident it will meet the requirement of the directive that all bus drivers will have a driver CPC certificate by next September, and all truck drivers will be tested and certified by September 2009.
The Road Safety Authority was established on 1 September 2006, ten days before the EU deadline for transposing the directive. The original directive came into force three years earlier, on 10 September 2003.