New laws recently agreed by the Cabinet could see motorists hit with a €2,000 fine. This amendment is due to affect those who allow unaccompanied learner drivers to use their vehicle.
These vehicle owners may also face jail time for up to six months.
The changes have been dubbed the “Clancy Amendment” in recognition of Noel Clancy. Noel has heavily campaigned for action to be taken since the passing of his wife and daughter.
Geraldine Clancy (58) and daughter, Louise (22) were involved in a fatal crash in Cork, December 2015. The accident involved an unaccompanied learner driver, Susan Gleeson and resulted with Geraldine and Louise sadly losing their lives. Ms. Gleeson received a three-year suspended sentence for dangerous driving in 2016.
While existing rules allow a learner driver to be prosecuted for driving unaccompanied, the owner of the vehicle used is currently able to escape any form of punishment.
The proposed laws will also see the vehicles of offending motorists seized by authorities. This is believed to be part of a wide-reaching road safety clampdown on motorists.
If passed by the Oireachtas in the coming weeks, the new amendment will apply to cars, vans, farmyard vehicles and commercial vehicle owners.
Road Safety Authority figures show that more than 10,600 fixed penalty points notices were issued to unaccompanied drivers in 2017.
Brian Farrell (Road Safety Authority spokesman), strongly backed the proposed laws, telling the Irish Examiner that the new amendment will undoubtedly save lives if introduced, and must be acted on immediately.
“We absolutely welcome the plans to fine and prosecute the person who supplies the vehicles, but for us the real power in the proposed law here is the extension of section 41 laws which will allow the gardaí to seize the vehicle, because it is absolutely vital to have a deterrent,” said Mr Farrell.
“Our own figures show that 25% of crashes where someone died involved a learner driver, despite learner drivers representing 12% of the population, so that underlines the risks involved.
“This is not about trying to put people off the road, but the reality is learner drivers need to be accompanied while they are being put in charge of a potentially lethal weapon.”
Mr Farrell was also asked if the proposed laws are excessive where a relative of the vehicle owner is only driving a short distance and he replied:
“I don’t accept that. Most crashes happen 5km-10km from a person’s home. It’s the roads nearest your home, the roads you maybe relax too much on, that are the most dangerous.”
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