In past three years 47 learner drivers involved in fatal crashes

The proportion of learner drivers involved in fatal car accidents is much lower than the proportion of learner drivers on the road.

RTÉ’s Prime Time will tonight report on newly compiled figures uncovered as the Government prepares to clamp down on learner drivers who drive unaccompanied, which is against the law.

Almost 9% of all drivers in Ireland hold a learner permit, but figures supplied to RTÉ by the Road Safety Authority (RSA) suggest that in the past four years just 5.8% of fatal collisions involved a learner driver.

There are plans to amend legislation which would hold the owner of cars responsible if learner drivers use them unaccompanied. The proposals could see the introduction of fines, imprisonment and the seizing of vehicles.

The programme spoke to Alec Lee, whose 17-year-old daughter Carol was killed in a crash in County Tipperary in 2000.

Carol Lee, who died aged 17
Carol Lee, who died aged 17

"All I’ve got left is memories and photographs and when you look through photos your heart breaks because the main thing that really upsets me is that there was no reason for my daughter to be dead, she should be alive and enjoying her life - the pain is still there – half my heart is gone."

He appealed to learner drivers not to drive unaccompanied:

"If learner drivers were in my shoes they could see what effect it has had at first hand. They have no experience so they shouldn't be driving.

"And as well as the law states they shouldn’t be driving, Gardai should take them off the road – the laws that are there at the moment are simply not being enforced... it’s just like a nod & wink."

Alec Lee
Alec Lee

The RSA has said that in the past three years 47 learner drivers have been involved in fatal crashes.

"On average twelve learners are involved in fatal crashes every year and ten are unaccompanied," said Moyagh Murdock, chief executive of the RSA.

"That compares very unfavourably with our near neighbours in the north where in 2016 they reported no learner or unaccompanied learner involved in a fatal crash .

"Those are stark figures – there’s not much difference in society between north and south but there is a different attitude towards unaccompanied learner drivers."

The RSA told RTÉ Prime Time that unaccompanied learner drivers are "out there causing serious risk to other people. It really isn’t acceptable."

RTÉ Prime Time airs tonight on RTÉ One at 9.35pm.

- Digital Desk


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