Insurance broker says, targeting of L-drivers 'unfair'

 

A west of Ireland businessman who believes that targeting of L-drivers in a bid to reduce the death toll on the roads is both "unworkable" and "unfair" has pledged to make a New Year crusade of the issue.

Mr Patrick McNicholas, a professional insurance broker with offices in Kiltimagh and Swinford, Co. Mayo, claims that young drivers are being made a scapegoat for the widespread road carnage.

He has promised to fight moves by the Minister for Transport, Séamus Brennan TD to dramatically reduce the number of provisional licence holders from a current high of some 300,000 to a mere fraction of that number.

Mr McNicholas has also strongly criticised the stated Garda policy in the Mayo Division to prosecute not alone young people who are driving unaccompanied but also the owners of these vehicles. He claimed at the weekend that the change in legislation proposed by Transport Minister, Brennan is unworkable, particularly in a west of Ireland situation, and the targeting of provisional licence holders should be ended until such time as a proper transportation system is in place in the region.

Mr McNicholas declared: "Our poor infrastructure and lack of public transport in the west means that many people who are holders of provisional licences have to commute to work.

"There are over 300,000 provisional licence holders in the Republic. Many have purchased vehicles to either travel to and from their place of work or to use them as part of their employment.

"If this directive is implemented the cost of on the spot fines and the penalties associated with it will eventually force people off the roads and on to the dole which will eventually result in increased costs to the taxpayer".

The stated intention of gardaí to single out young drivers for special attention has also angered Mr McNicholas who argues that such a policy is unfair.

"I have worked with young people through the GAA for the past 25 years and I haven't come across a bad youth yet. When a youth gets involved in an accident every youth who drives gets condemned.

Insurance was presently prohibitive for them without an endorsement and the Government must take full responsibility for this as they have chosen to ignore the many requests for a proper system of training for young drivers.

Mr McNicholas is asking parents, employers and young/inexperienced drivers who hold provisional licences with similar views on the issue to contact him before he makes formal proposals to the Department of Transport and the Garda authorities on the issue.