337 vehicles seized from unaccompanied learner drivers

A total of 337 vehicles were seized from unaccompanied learner drivers between December 22, 2018 and February 10, 2019, because they were not accompanied by a person holding a full driving licence, the Garda press office has confirmed.

Sections 4 and 5 of the Road Traffic (Amendment) Act, 2018, commenced on December 22, 2018.

Section 4 of the Act amends Section 41 Road Traffic Act 1994 and provides an additional power to impound a vehicle where, in the opinion of a member of An Garda Siochana, the holder of a learner permit is not driving in accordance with clause (iv) of regulation 17(6)(b) of the Road Traffic (Licensing of Drivers) Regulations 2006.

The ‘Clancy amendment’ was introduced after farmer Noel Clancy’s wife Geraldine and daughter Louise died on December 22, 2015, when their car overturned into a flooded ditch near their home in Kilworth, Co. Cork. It had been involved in a collision with a car driven by an unaccompanied learner driver.

Campaigned for change

The Cork farmer has since campaigned for a change in the law that would make the car owner and driver equally accountable, and has taken part in hard-hitting TV advertisements titled ‘Crashed Lives’, highlighting the issue.

Car owners who allow learner drivers to use their vehicles unaccompanied face fines or jail terms under the new laws.

The Garda Press Office said that a learner permit holder must be accompanied by a person holding a full driving licence for the category of vehicle being driven. The only exceptions to this are when driving a work vehicle such as tractor, unless adapted for a passenger, and riding a motorcycle. Motorcycle learner drivers may be restricted to riding a motorcycle with a particular power output (kW.)

An accompanying driver must have held their full licence for a period of at least two years. It is not sufficient to have a certificate of competency to act as an accompanying driver.

Vehicles seized and impounded will only be released on payment of the appropriate fee or in compliance with the Road Traffic Act 1994 (Detention of Vehicles) (Amendment) Regulations 2018.