Monday 16 September 2019

Gardaí seizing seven cars a day from learners after law change

Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan. Photo: Tony Gavin
Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan. Photo: Tony Gavin

Ralph Riegel

Seven cars a day are being seized by gardaí from unaccompanied learner drivers under the so-called Clancy Amendment.

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan confirmed that since the new legislation came into effect last Christmas, more than 700 vehicles have been seized nationwide.

That equates to an average of seven cars a day being confiscated.

The high seizure rate has been hailed by road safety group Parc as proof of the scale of the problem, with many learner drivers flouting licensing rules by driving without an experienced fully licensed holder in the vehicle.

"I am informed by an Garda Síochána that the number of vehicles seized from unaccompanied drivers under the Clancy Amendment is over 700 vehicles," Mr Flanagan said.

"The figures are from December 22, 2018 to March 29, 2019."

The figures were revealed in reply to a parliamentary question from Tommy Broughan TD.

It is understood that the seizure rate was highest over Christmas and the New Year.

However, the minister was unable to give a breakdown of the seizure totals by Garda division, because of the way gardaí compile the statistics.

Susan Gray, founder of Parc, warned the Garda IT Pulse system has not yet been updated to specifically record when a vehicle is seized from an unaccompanied learner.

"These updates to the Garda Pulse system are essential for statistical reasons and to allow for an ongoing analysis of the figures on a geographic basis.

"Garda HQ must make these updates a priority as it will assist in the identification of specific reasons for the detention of a vehicle under Section 41 of the 1994 Road Traffic Act," she said..

"There must be total transparency."

However, a timeframe for implementation of the IT updates to the Pulse system has not been agreed.

Last week the Irish Independent revealed that just one in 10 Irish drivers with court disqualifications surrendered their licences to the Road Safety Authority (RSA).

Parc warned that much more still needs to be done to ensure that road safety rules are enforced across Ireland.

Ms Gray's husband, Steve, was killed by an unaccompanied learner driver in Inishowen, Co Donegal.

Clancy Amendment

The Clancy Amendment which allows for the seizure of vehicles driven by unaccompanied learner drivers was introduced following a high-profile Parc campaign after the tragic death of a mother and daughter in north Cork.

Noel Clancy lost his wife Geraldine (58) and daughter Louise (22) in a December 2015 collision which involved an unaccompanied learner driver.

The mother and daughter drowned in a flooded ditch after their vehicle ploughed through a wall following the collision.

The Cork farmer has become a road safety campaigner and participated in a high-profile RSA television campaign aimed at ensuring all learner drivers only get behind the wheel while properly accompanied.

Irish Independent

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