Friday 22 June 2018

Explainer: How motorists could be jailed under new learner driver rules

Noel Clancy and inset his wife Geraldine and daughter Louise
Noel Clancy and inset his wife Geraldine and daughter Louise

Kathy Armstrong

Motorists who allow unaccompanied learner drivers to use their vehicles could be hit with tough penalties under proposed new legislation.

The so-called "Clancy amendment" was agreed by the Cabinet yesterday and Transport Minister Shane Ross will put it forward to the Oireachtas now to be considered as part of the Road Traffic Bill.

Here is everything you need to know about what it is, who it will impact and how it came about:

What are the existing rules?

Currently learner drivers must be accompanied by someone who holds a full licence.

If a learner driver is caught driving unaccompanied they can face a maximum fine of €1,000.

The person who owns the vehicle will not face any punishment.

What would change?

Under the proposed amendment, motorists who allow a learner driver to use their vehicle would also be punished.

The vehicle would be seized by gardai who find anyone breaching the law.

It's going to be very hard for the learners to gain experience driving if they have to wait for a full licenced driver to be with them at all times. What with work, bringing their other children to training,matches and all the other things people have to do on a daily basis..... who ever thought this up obviously only has either one or no kids.. this country is a joke honesty..

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This is stupid. It's physically impossible to have someone in the car with you at all times. What workplace or school is going to take "I can't come in today because my dad's working and can't sit in the car with me while I drive to work" as an excuse?

And as long as there's a 6 month waiting list for the driving test, this isn't going to change... Some European countries have the right driving test system, you do an intensive course and do your test straight away afterwards. No L plates, no waiting lists, no bollixing.

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Another D4 decision. How are young drivers supposed to gain experience?. A learner driver with a years actual driving experience might actually be a better driver that some driver who has their test passed after a short period of time. Some young people need a car to get to college, apprenticeships jobs etc. If this to be rolled out then driving test waiting times have to be decreased big time. Rural Ireland have shocking public transport support.

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The whole process would be so much easier if there were driving lessons in school. Maybe some kind of optional course for senior students interested in driving. It's impossible for a learner driver to have a full licence passenger accompany them at all times. Where would you find someone willing to sit in your car for 8hrs + while you do a days work, just to accompany you on the way home..

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 The sooner the better.

Those complaining about the cost of insurance for learners I 100% agree but that is a completely seperate issue.

NO-ONE should sit behind the wheel of a car without a qualified driver with them...end of!

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If they don’t want unlicensed drivers using the roads they should review their testing system - currently 26-28 weeks waiting list in Carlow and if you fail you have to wait the same amount of time again to retake the test. Also, improving the public transport system so that people could get to work would be a good idea instead of thinking up bullsh*t like this. How are you supposed to get to work with a practically non existent pubic transport system and wait times like this for a driving test? All this does is force people not to take jobs - because they have no way of getting to them.

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The vehicle owner could also be hit with a maximum fine of €2,000 and face up to six months in prison.

This will affect cars, vans, farmyard vehicles and commercial vehicles.

(Stock picture)
(Stock picture)

Why is it called the Clancy amendment?

Geraldine Clancy (58) and her daughter Louise (22) tragically died in a crash involving an unaccompanied learner driver on December 22 2015.

Following the deaths of his wife and daughter, Noel Clancy has repeatedly called for stricter measures to crack down on unaccompanied learned drivers.

He said in 2016: "I think it is important to reflect on the question, on any given day, (of) how many learner drivers are on the roads of Ireland unaccompanied.

"I am calling on the minister to implement legislation so that allowing one's car to be driven by an unaccompanied learner driver is an offence and would make both the car owner and driver equally accountable in law."

What has Shane Ross said?

Minister Ross has said that he feels the amendment is necessary if we want to crack down on unaccompanied learner drivers.

Speaking as he launched the campaign late last year, he said: “It’s not just one tragedy, it’s repetitive.

“What we are determined to do is to make sure that people do not lend their cars or give their keys to unaccompanied learner drivers.

"Learner drivers who drive unaccompanied are breaking the law. They mustn’t do it and we must enforce it."

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