Legal issues delay unaccompanied learner driver rules, says Minister

Ross rejects claim he is ‘not doing his job’ on measure passed 10 months ago

Legal issues are delaying the implementation of regulations on unaccompanied learner drivers, Minister for Transport Shane Ross has told the Dáil.

Independent TD Tommy Broughan accused the Minister of doing "absolutely nothing" to implement a section of the Road Traffic Act passed before Christmas last year.

The provision makes it an offence for the owner of a vehicle to allow it to be driven by a learner who is driving unaccompanied.

The Parc road safety group called for the measure to be introduced as did a farmer from North Cork Noel Clancy whose wife Geraldine and daughter Louise were killed in a crash involving an unaccompanied learner driver.


Mr Broughan accused the Minister of not showing the urgency the issue demanded and of “not doing his job” despite 44 fatal collisions between 2012 and 2016 involving unaccompanied learner drivers.

The Dublin Bay North TD claimed Mr Ross was “dragging his heels”. The Minister had accepted the proposal in an amendment from Mr Broughan.

Mr Ross said preliminary legal advice had been obtained which outlined issues that had to be addressed including “drafting and definitions, the question of strict liability and interaction with other road traffic legislative provisions”.

Mr Ross said he shared Mr Broughan’s frustration on the issue and was anxious to address it. He had asked officials to look at amending a section of the 1994 Road Traffic Act to give gardaí power to detain vehicles driven by an unaccompanied learner driver.

“It would be madness for me to go ahead with this particular amendment, laudable and all as it is if it was to land in the courts on day one.”

The Minister said he wanted to “make sure it is robust, bullet proof and that we do save lives when we introduce the measure”.

“The last thing I want to do is to complicate the law on unaccompanied driver by accepting an amendment which is flawed.”

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran is Parliamentary Correspondent of The Irish Times