Since new laws were introduced in mid 2008, more than 16,000 learner drivers have been caught behind the wheel of a car without supervision or without displaying L-plates.
An appeal has been made by road safety chiefs, asking parents to prevent inexperienced motorists driving on their own after it was revealed that 16,132 summonses had been issued to unqualified drivers since a change in the law back in July 2008. Of that number up to the end of June 2010, as many as 8,413 learner drivers had been issued with summonses for driving without by a fully licensed driver present. A further 7,719 people were ordered before the courts for not displaying the necessary L-plates when driving. Being convicted of either offence could see the learner driver facing a €2,000 fine and/or a three-month prison term.
Since the new laws were brought in, no learner drivers, which include those who are on a second provisional licence, are allowed to drive a vehicle alone.
This was seen, as a controversial measure when it was introduced by Transport Minister Noel Dempsey, as there had been fears surrounding isolating drivers in rural areas of Ireland.
Chief of the Road Safety Authority, Noel Brett said, “Drivers who are most at risk of killing or being killed on our roads are those who hold learner permits and those in their first three years after passing their test. It is not whether you have a licence; it has to do with experience and confidence. I am disappointed that the gardai would have summoned that many people. I appeal to parents to become more involved in teaching and supervising their young person’s driving. They shouldn’t tolerate a situation where cars are made available or car insurance is made available.”
Mr Brett believes that because of ‘an inflated sense of their own confidence and invulnerability’ amongst novice drivers, changing the perception of the parents was equally as important as trying to banish the irresponsible behaviour of some inexperienced drivers. Families will invest time and money into a young persons hobbies and Mr Brett thinks they should do the same by funding proper lessons and give up their own time to accompany the learner drivers on the roads. He went on to say, “It is the most inexperienced drivers who disproportionately feature in death and injury collisions not just in Ireland but internationally.”
A long awaited Graduated Licensing System is to be announced by the Road Safety Authority, which will include new rules about the minimum number of lessons a leaner must take.
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