A loophole in Irish driving laws is about to be closed from midnight tonight.
In recent times, learner drivers on their second provisional licence have been allowed on the roads on their own. However, from tonight they will now have to be accompanied by a qualified driver – someone who has held their full licence for 2 years or more. (see Road Safety Authority announcement [PDF])
The exception that allowed learner drivers on the roads unaccompanied originally arose because of delays in drivers getting a test date. Several years ago it was no unheard of for learners to wait up to 2 years for a test. However this situation has now been reversed, and it takes no more than a couple of weeks to get a driving test now.
The problem, however, is that many people haven’t felt the need to apply for a test. Until now they’ve been able to legally drive around without bothering – which at one point meant there was an estimated 1 in 7 unqualified drivers on the Irish roads. That’s gone down recently as learners have rushed to sign up for tests, ahead of this law change.
However, there are still as many as 92,000 learner drivers affected by the new law — each of which faces a minimum fine of €1,000 if caught driving on their own.