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Unaccompanied learner drivers were involved in 35 fatal car crashes in past four years

While 9% of drivers on the road are learners, only 5.8% of fatal crashes involved learner drivers.

Image: PA Images

THE PROPORTION OF learner drivers involved in fatal car accidents is much lower than the proportion of learner drivers on the road.

Tonight’s RTÉ Prime Time programme will delve into new released road statistics against the backdrop of proposed new legislation to clampdown on unaccompanied learner drivers.

In February, Minister for Transport Shane Ross sought approval for an amendment to the Road Traffic Bill, dubbed the ‘Clancy amendment’. This amendment would see car owners who allow unaccompanied learner drivers to use their vehicles face prosecution.

According to figures provided to RTÉ by the Road Safety Authority, 5.8% of all fatal crashes between 2014 to 2017 involved a learner driver.

However, just under 9% of all drivers in Ireland hold a learners permit.

rte rsa

RSA chief executive Moyagh Murdock said that number of learners involved in fatal crashes is unacceptable.

She told the programme: “On average, twelve learners are involved in fatal crashes every year and ten are unaccompanied. That compares very unfavourably with our near neighbours in the north where in 2016 they reported no learner or unaccompanied learner involved in a fatal crash.

Those are stark figures – there’s not much difference in society between north and south but there is a different attitude towards unaccompanied learner drivers.

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With 47 fatal crashes involving learner drivers in between 2014 and 2017 – 35 of these fatal crashes involved unaccompanied drivers – Murdock said “it really isn’t acceptable” for people to take the risk.

Also speaking to Prime Time was Alec Lee, whose 17-year-old daughter Carol was killed in a crash in Tipperary in 2000.

RTE Prime Time - Learner Drivers - Carol Lee who died age 17 Carol Lee Source: RTÉ Prime Time

He said: “All I’ve got left is memories and photographs and when you look through photos your heart breaks because the main thing that really upsets me is that there was no reason for my daughter to be dead, she should be alive and enjoying her life – the pain is still there – half my heart is gone.

If learner drivers were in my shoes they could see what effect it has had at first hand. They have no experience so they shouldn’t be driving. And as well as the law states they shouldn’t be driving, gardaí should take them off the road – the laws that are there at the moment are simply not being enforced… it’s just like a nod and wink.

Read: Cabinet approves changes to make it illegal to let unaccompanied learners drive your car

Read: Over 150 unaccompanied learner drivers involved in serious or fatal collisions in last five years

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Sean Murray

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