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Nice one, Leo, hit the boy racers where it hurts

AFTER a series of embarrassing failures that would have made Mr Bean look like The Stig, I was finally granted a driving licence and couldn't wait to peel off those L-plates.

Of course, I was a married father of two in my early 30s by then and had already seen several of my instructors through to retirement over the course of more than a decade. So I was understandably excited.

So it's easy to see how tough new regulations announced by the Government will have been greeted with dismay by thousands of young learners this week.

Not only will they have to replace that big red 'L' plate with a big fat 'N' for Newbie Driver sticker but a shake-up of the penalty points system also means they could be put off the road for up to six months if caught using a mobile phone while driving.

When I was the age of most of today's new drivers, you'd barely have been able to fit a mobile phone in the door, let alone negotiate the cricket bat-sized contraption around the wheel while steering, so this wasn't really an issue.

But now I have three teenage boys of my own and I face the imminent and rather terrifying prospect of at least one of them being driven home by a learner or newly qualified pal sooner or later.

This is why, as a parent, I have entirely changed my tune on embarrassing 'L' and 'N' plates, which I'd now like to be emblazoned in giant day-glow orange on every panel of the car.

In fact, I'm rooting for compulsory padded helmets the size of space hoppers too -- as well as a mandatory top speed of five miles an hour.

Did I mention that engines are out and you get a little pair of pedals instead? You think I'm just kidding around, but I'm actually holding the line for Leo Varadkar.

Have fun, boy racers.