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More than 1,600 vehicles from unaccompanied learner permit holders have been impounded since December 2018. Eamonn Farrell/

Unaccompanied learners: Over 1,600 cars impounded since December last year

The RSA and Gardaí are calling on long-term learner permit holders to take their driving test.

OVER 1,600 CARS have been impounded by Gardaí from unaccompanied learner drivers since December 2018. 

New legislation introduced last December means that a vehicle driven by an unaccompanied learner driver can be detained by Gardaí and face charges to recover it. 

Figures released today by the Road Safety Authority (RSA) and the Gardaí reveal that the number of people detected without ‘L’ plates so far in 2019 is 2,311. 

“Learner permit holders need to get the message that the learner permit is not a full licence and that they must be accompanied while driving by a fully qualified driver,” Chief Superintendent of the Garda National Roads Policing Bureau, Paul Cleary, said in a statement. 

The RSA has launched a new campaign to encourage those still in possession of learner permits to sit a driving test. 

The figures show that there are 41,316 people on their fourth or more learner permit – while this represents an 11% drop on last year, officials are warning that it still poses a significant danger. 

Of those, 8,663 people are on their 10th or more learner permits. 

“The practice of people continuing to drive on learner permits without ever taking a test is unacceptable and unnecessary in today’s circumstances, where the national average waiting time to take a test is just over six weeks,” said the head of the RSA, Moyagh Murdock. 

 An increase in the cost of learner permits, a decrease in the duration of a permit and a requirement to take mandatory lessons are all being considered by the RSA and the Department of Transport as ways to address the issue. 

“If the owner of a vehicle has knowingly allowed a learner permit holder to drive unaccompanied those owners may also face prosecution,” Cleary warned. 

The RSA said that the average waiting time for a driving test is now just over six weeks.

According to figures released to last year by the RSA, Kilrush in Co Clare had the lowest pass rate in the country. 

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