Up until 2007, provisional drivers on their second license were allowed to drive alone. However, in 2010 more than 16,000 motorists were on their sixth provisional license and, perhaps as a result, by 2016 43% of learner drivers were choosing to drive unaccompanied.
Then, in 2018, the ‘Clancy Amendment’ was enacted, which gave Gardaí powers to seize cars driven by learners driving alone, as well as the ability to penalise motorists who let unaccompanied learners use their car The amendment was named after Geraldine and Louise Clancy who were tragically killed in a crash involving an unaccompanied learner driver in 2015.
Research* from Allianz in July 2019, conducted by Red C Research, has gauged how the Irish public feels about the current restrictions on learner drivers.
Unsurprisingly, 57% of people polled personally know a learner driver who drives or has driven unaccompanied. These respondents were primarily:
- Females (61%)
- 18-34 years old (68%)
- From more affluent social classes (63%)
- Students (73%)
- Those holding a learner permit themselves (69%)
Driving Unaccompanied as the Social Norm
Despite new rules and regulations, driving with a learner licence appears to be a frequent occurrence. Nearly one third (32%) of those polled admitted to driving unaccompanied as a learner, 34% of which admitting to driving unaccompanied regularly and 26% admitting to driving unaccompanied all the time.
44% of those who have driven unaccompanied also knew someone else who has driven unaccompanied, which points to social norming as a potential reason. These people were primarily 35-54-years old from Munster, working full time, and from a more affluent social class.
Both those who have driven unaccompanied and those who knew someone who has driven accompanied were more likely to be in favour of relaxation of the restrictions currently placed on learner drivers.
Thankfully, those who said they have been tempted to drive unaccompanied but never actually took to the road were primarily 18-34-year-olds and those currently on a learner’s permit. This could indicate that stronger penalties have changed young drivers’ willingness to disregard the laws, despite them favouring reduced restrictions and believing that current regulations are unfair.
According to the research, the public favour the current restrictions placed on learner drivers; most believing that it’s fair to expect learners to be accompanied at all times, regardless of what part of the country they live in.
However, almost one third were in favour of relaxed restrictions:
- 32% felt that learner drivers should be allowed to drive in certain areas without being accompanied by a qualified driver
- 26% believed that learner drivers should be allowed to drive alone during off peak traffic periods
- 22% admitted that they think that learner drivers should be allowed to drive without being accompanied by a qualified driver on Sundays
18-24 year-olds, students, unemployed people, and learner permit holders were more likely to favour relaxed restrictions.
Supporting the Rules
On the other hand, those aged 55+, from more affluent social classes and those with a full driving licence were more likely to be against any relaxation of the restrictions placed on learner drivers. People from rural areas, as well as Connacht and Ulster residents tended to oppose any relaxation of the current rules.
Interestingly, individuals from rural Ireland are more likely to agree that learner drivers should be accompanied in general or in urban areas. However, when it comes to rural areas specifically, compared to average they’re slightly less likely to agree.
The Irish public has come a long way in the past thirty years; from social change and political challenges to economic peaks and troughs, but the one thing that has remained fixed is our drive to make our country a safer place. The public change in attitude towards unaccompanied learners can ultimately save lives, while giving other road users piece of mind.
At Allianz, we understand that helping your child get on the road can be challenging and takes courage; we are here to help. We reward responsible, safe driving. Learn more about the Allianz Safe Driver App. Standard acceptance criteria apply.
Driving unaccompanied on a learner’s permit endangers lives and can result in serious penalties, so be smart. Arrive safe, drive carefully, and only drive alone when qualified.
*Red C Research interviewed a total of 1,001 adults aged 18-65+ nationwide. The respondents came from a range of different social backgrounds throughout Ireland.
This guidance is for general information purposes only. Allianz accepts no responsibility or liability for any losses that may arise from any reliance upon the information contained in this guidance.
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