Car owners who allow learner drivers drive unaccompanied face prosecution
Minister for Transport seeks approval to introduce Clancy amendment
It is currently illegal for learner drivers to drive a vehicle unaccompanied by someone with a driving licence of at least two years’ standing
Car owners who give their vehicle to an unaccompanied learner driver will be held accountable in law under plans to be approved by the Cabinet today.
Minister for Transport Shane Ross will seek to introduce an amendment to the Road Traffic Bill, which is due to be considered again later this month.
The measures are known as the “Clancy” amendment and are in response to a request by Noel Clancy, who lost his wife and daughter in a crash involving an unaccompanied learner driver.
Geraldine Clancy (58) and Louise Clancy (22) were killed in the crash on December 22nd, 2015. Susan Gleeson, an unaccompanied learner driver at the time of the collision, was recently given a three-year suspended sentence for dangerous driving over the incident.
It is currently illegal for learner drivers to drive a vehicle unaccompanied by someone with a driving licence of at least two years’ standing.
The changes proposed by Mr Ross, however, would go further and would allow for the owner of the vehicle to face prosecution if an unaccompanied driver is found behind the wheel. The new law will also apply to car owners who give their vehicles to a person without a licence.
The measures will apply to all vehicles, including private cars, agricultural vehicles and commercial vehicles. It will also allow for gardaí to seize the vehicles driven by an unaccompanied learner driver.
Mr Ross had first sought approval to introduce the changes last November but it was delayed due to a number of concerns raised by the Attorney General’s office about its implementation.
Government sources said all issues have now been addressed and the proposals will now be included in the Road Traffic Bill, which is at committee stage in the Oireachtas.
That legislation, which seeks to address a legal loophole where first-time drink drivers can escape a driving ban, is being altered to include the Clancy amendment. It will be debated at the Oireachtas committee on transport at the end of this month.
Government sources indicated Mr Ross is also keen to address calls for a minimum cycling distance to be introduced at that juncture.
Under the proposed new legislation introduced by Minister for Social Protection Regina Doherty and Minister of State Ciarán Cannon, motorists would be obliged by law to pass cyclists with a gap of no less than 1.5m on roads with a speed limit of 50km/h or higher. On roads where the speed limit is under 50km/h, the safe passing distance would be set at a metre.
The Minister has sought a review of the proposals and its implementation in other jurisdictions. He hopes to have made a decision on the measures by the date of the Oireachtas committee hearing.
The Department of Transport have raised concerns about its implementation claiming it may be unworkable and unenforceable.