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new figures Gardai seize an average of eight cars from solo drivers a day

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Female hands on a sports car steering wheel, car interior

Female hands on a sports car steering wheel, car interior

Female hands on a sports car steering wheel, car interior

GARDAÍ have seized an average of eight cars each day from unaccompanied learner drivers since they were given new powers two years ago.

Over 5,200 cars have been seized under the Clancy Amendment, figures released by Transport Minister Eamon Ryan reveal.

Learner drivers are required by law to have a qualified accompanying driver with them and the amendment allows owners who knowingly allow their vehicles to be used by an unaccompanied learner driver to be penalised.

It gave gardaí the power to seize vehicles and fine owners, on top of being able to issue penalty points notices and fines to unaccompanied drivers.

The new law was named after mother and daughter Geraldine and Louise Clancy, who were killed in 2015 in a crash involving an unaccompanied learner driver.

Road safety campaigners have welcomed the enforcement of the amendment, but say it is worrying that the number of breaches being recorded has increased year on year.

In response to a parliamentary question from Social Democrats co-leader Catherine Murphy, Mr Ryan said 2,513 vehicles were seized under the amendment in 2019 and 2,701 in 2020 up to the end of October.

Some 6,145 fixed charge penalty notices were also issued to unaccompanied drivers last year and 5,367 in the first ten months of 2020.

The owner of a seized vehicle must pay €125 to retrieve it, plus €35 for every additional day it remains in storage. Unaccompanied learners receive two penalty points and €80 fine.

Responding to the figures, road safety group Parc called for the closure of a loophole which means learner drivers do not have to sit a test before they can renew their permit.

MANDATORY

“On one hand it is great to see gardaí are enforcing the Clancy amendment. On the other it shows that many learner drivers are still ignoring the law and driving unaccompanied,” said Parc spokeswoman Susan Gray.

“The question we would ask is why has the Road Safety Authority and the Department of Transport have not made it mandatory for a learner to have to sit a test before they can obtain a further permit.”

Ms Murphy said difficulties learner drivers have experienced this year in getting a test due to the pandemic may have been a factor in the increased number of detections.

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Figures released in September showed the vast majority of learner drivers involved in fatal collisions since 2017 were unaccompanied at the time.

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