By Stephen Cadogan
Transport Minister Shane Ross has been accused of being out of touch with the reality of rural life, after announcing new laws to fine and jail motorists who give their vehicles to unaccompanied learner drivers.
However, he has clarified that the law requiring a learner to be accompanied by a qualified driver relates only to class B, C, and D vehicles, respectively cars, minibuses, buses, vans and trucks.
There is no requirement for a learner to have a qualified accompanying driver for the A categories (motorbikes), or for the W category, which covers tractors.
The proposed new legislation therefore has no impact of any kind on tractors.
The clarification by Minister Ross came in a Dail reply to Independent Tipperary TD Mattie McGrath, one of the loudest critics of the clampdown on unaccompanied learner drivers. He has warned it will have a drastic effect on rural dwellers.
“People will have to leave work to come home to drive to college with their sons or daughters,” said Mr McGrath.
Meanwhile, it has been revealed that tractor drivers will also escape — for the time being at least— the new end-of-life levy on tyres.
The levy is in force since last October, as part of regulations requiring anyone who places a new tyre on the market in the State (including the sale of new vehicles), to charge the Environmental Management Charge (vEMC) on these tyres. The vEMC has been set at €2.80 (excluding VAT) for car tyres and €1.50 for motorcycle tyres.
“Setting the vEMC rate for agricultural, construction and truck tyres has been deferred, pending the gathering of further market data,” said Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Denis Naughten in the Dail, replying to a question from Cork South West Fianna Fail TD Margaret Murphy O’Mahony.