A CLAMP-DOWN on unaccompanied learner drivers came into effect in the past week with the introduction of new legislation.
“Once and for all we need to stamp out the entirely false notion that once someone has a learner permit they are free to drive as they wish. A learner permit is not a driving licence,” declared Transport Minister Shane Ross, as the “Clancy Amendment” became law.
This is three years on from when Geraldine Clancy (58), and her daughter Louise (22), died on December 22, 2015 when an unaccompanied learner driver lost control of her car at a junction a kilometre from their home in Kilworth, County Cork.
The unaccompanied learner driver was given a three-month suspended sentence for dangerous driving. She admitted failing to yield at a blind junction and striking the Clancys’ car.
Minister Ross said there new provisions now make it an offence for the owner of a vehicle to knowingly allow an unaccompanied learner or an unlicensed person to drive his or her vehicle. The provisions also extend the power of detention under section 41 of the Road Traffic Act 1994 to allow the Garda Síochána to detain a vehicle being driven, in the garda’s opinion, by an unaccompanied learner.
The minister said, “I hope that this new law will have a serious impact on driving culture in this country. I hope that vehicle owners will act responsibly when allowing learners to drive their vehicles, be those learners sons and daughters, friends, or other family members.
Minister Ross said the new provision were being implemented “in honour of Geraldine and Louise Clancy”.
He continued, “Unaccompanied learner driving is illegal and it is dangerous. Those who argue that putting an end to unaccompanied learner driving will somehow make life harder for people are missing the point.
“Every week my department is accused of crucifying rural Ireland and of wilfully making life difficult for young people. The reality is that we are doing neither of these things. This new piece of legislation is about preventing collisions and saving lives.”
Husband and father of the accident victims, Noel Clancy said, “We are very pleased that this new law is coming into effect at last. We are looking forward to it being enforced by the gardaí and more importantly observed by car owners and learner drivers.”
To support the introduction of the new law, the RSA collaborated with Noel Clancy to develop a new ‘Crashed Lives’ public awareness campaign. In the 60 second ad on TV we will hear his message – that if you let a learner drive unaccompanied, you’re putting them, and everyone on the road at risk. The campaign also includes a 30 second radio ad. Both will run to the end of January 2019. The campaign is also being shown in cinemas over Christmas and will run online and on social media.
Assistant Commissioner David Sheahan said, “We cannot emphasise enough the importance of complying with this legislation. MPVs in inexperienced or unlicensed hands have the potential to severely or even fatally injure someone. An Garda Síochána will continue to enforce legislation that will improve road safety for all.”