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RSA – Operation Learner Driver – 43% of learner permit holders drive unaccompanied

Posted on 7 May 2012, under the category RSA Press Release

Road Safety is every road user’s responsibility. Tragically 58 people have already lost their lives on our roads so far this year. This is 7 road deaths less than this period last year.

The majority of road users have adopted safer behaviours and played their part in reducing the pain and grief that comes with every fatal or serious injury road collision. With this in mind, we appeal to every road user to once again play their part in continuing with this reduction in road deaths.

Enforcement by An Garda Síochána will continue to focus on high risk behaviour such as speeding, drink or drug driving, non use of seatbelts, reckless driving and use of mobile phones. A particular focus will also be on the Learner Driver. From 2 recent operations targeting Learner Drivers we find that a significant percentage of those are not abiding by the conditions of holding that permit. Of the 2200 drivers checked, 43% (946) were un-accompanied by a full licence holder, and 30% (660) were not displaying L plates. In some cases both offences were committed by the same driver.

Assistant Commissioner John O’ Mahoney said today:

“We appeal to all road users to continue to do all they can in keeping our roads as safe as they can be. Although 7 less people have been killed on our roads, we saw an increase in April 2012 compared to April 2011 (18 versus 8). We must be mindful that any mistake on the road can lead to very serious consequences for all involved. We especially wish to remind all learner permit holders of their legal obligations with regards to displaying L-plates, being accompanied by qualified drivers at all times and motorway restrictions. A recent series of operations highlighted the fact that as high as 43% of learner permit holders were in breach of these conditions. Driving is a skill which must be practised to improve that skill. As a learner you are doing exactly that, learning, to drive. All vehicle owners should also ensure that any learner permit holder driving their vehicle is accompanied by a fully qualified driver and displays L plates at all times. An Garda Síochána will continue to prioritise the enforcement to these road traffic regulations to ensure greater compliance by Learner Drivers. ”

Commenting on ‘Operation Learner Driver’, Mr. Noel Brett, CEO, Road Safety Authority while disappointed at the high number of novice drivers detected welcomed the Garda enforcement of these vital road safety laws, “A learner permit is just that, a permit, it is not a driving licence. A Learner Permit allows an individual to learn to drive under certain conditions, until they are ready to take a driving test. These include, that they be accompanied by a driver who has held their full licence for more than two years and that ‘L’ plates are displayed at all times to alert other drivers to the presence of a novice driver. These laws are there to protect this group who are vulnerable road users by the fact that they are inexperienced drivers.”

“There are now over 2,000 Approved Driving Instructors (ADI) nationwide, registered with the RSA, who are able to provide a high standard of tuition to candidates. They are also providing tuition under the new RSA’s mandatory Essential Driver Training Programme, which requires anyone who received their first Learner Permit since the 4th May 2011 to undertake 12 hours of compulsory driving tuition. Waiting times for the driving test have been cut dramatically and are below a ten week national average and in some places this waiting time is lower. If someone needs an urgent driving test, for example to secure a job, we can prioritise that candidate for a test. Waiting times for a driving test or access to quality tuition are no longer excuses for driving long term or breaching the terms of the Learner Permit.”

“There is also an issue of parental responsibility involved here and I would appeal directly to the parents of young learner drivers to stop turning a blind eye to what’s going on and do not allow their son or daughter access to a vehicle, unless they are accompanied and have ‘L’ plates displayed.”

“It is also worth pointing out that a learner permit holder who is not adhering to the requirements for that licence and who is involved in a collision will be covered for third party liability but their insurance provider may not cover any other costs and may seek to recover costs for the non compliant driver,” concluded Mr. Brett.

A list of over 2,000 Approved Driving Instructors (ADI) nationwide can be found on the RSA’s website.

Commenting on results of the Garda enforcement Mr. Garry Redmond, President, Union of Students in Ireland, said “I am concerned by the number of Learner Drivers who are driving unaccompanied. Such drivers pose a real risk not only to other drivers and vulnerable road users but also to themselves. As a learner driver you simply have not proven that you are a safe and competent driver, no matter how many lessons you have taken. So it’s vital that you drive accompanied by a fully qualified driver whenever using the road.”

Mr. Redmond added that, “the USI is fully supportive of such campaigns by An Garda Síochána to eliminate this irresponsible driving practice and would remind drivers of the consequences of driving unaccompanied. Furthermore we will continue to work with both the Gardai and the RSA to promote road safety on campuses across the country.”

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