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Shane Ross says new law was needed as gardaí seize 377 cars driven by unaccompanied learner drivers

Criticism has been levelled at the transport minister over the long wait times for the driving test.

Image: Shutterstock/shutterupeire

CLOSE TO 400 learner drivers have been caught driving a car unaccompanied and had the vehicle seized since a new law banning it came into effect. 

The Irish Times reported today that 377 cars driven by unaccompanied learner drivers have been seized since the introduction of new legislation.

Transport Minister Shane Ross said today that he is “disappointed” that so many learner drivers were disobeying the new law. 

The law allows gardaí to impound any vehicle being driven by an unaccompanied driver with a provisional licence.

The law followed on from campaigning from Noel Clancy, whose wife, Geraldine Clancy (58) and daughter, Louise (22), were tragically killed in an accident involving an unaccompanied learner driver in December 2015.

The driver was subsequently given a three-year suspended sentence.

Since their deaths, Noel Clancy campaigned for a change in the law that would make the car owner and driver equally accountable in the law.

He said the latest figures show “there as a need for the legislation”, adding that he is “very glad to see it is being properly enforced”.

Long wait times for driver test

Since the introduction of the legislation, criticism has been levelled at the minister over the massive delays in learner drivers getting a date for their driving test. 

Kerry TD Danny Healy Rae said learner drivers who have to make their way to college or to work each day have no choice but to get behind the wheel due to the long wait times they are facing for their test. 

The Road Safety Authority (RSA) states that the average waiting time for a driving test  may vary above or below its 10-week target.

However, areas such as Thurles average 20 weeks, while Shannon and Skibbereen is over 19 weeks, and Cork is over 17 weeks. 

Speaking in the Dáil recently, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said the wait time for driver tests is not acceptable, with varying wait times around the country.

“I absolutely acknowledge that there are unacceptable delays faced by people getting driving licences. It varies in different parts of the country but it is something we are working on. We want to get that waiting time down to a reasonable level as soon as we can,” he said. 

Ross told TheJournal.ie today that the wait times “are too long”. He added that the wait time has been brought down and is falling. 

The minister said a large number of testers have been recruited due to the new legislation and the anticipation that there would be a spike in learner drivers applying for the test after December. 

He said the testers nationwide are “operating at full throttle”. 

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