Gardaí have warned of a clampdown on tens of thousands of learner drivers who appear to be renewing their permits repeatedly rather than taking their driving test.
“We see on average 10 learner drivers a year involved in fatal accidents,” Moyagh Murdock, CEO of the RSA, told the Irish Independent.
“We want to ensure that the roads are safer places for everyone, including the learner drivers themselves.
“These are not young drivers; these are people in their 30s, 40s, 50s that have been driving for years on their learner permit.”
According to gardaí and the Road Safety Authority (RSA), 41,316 drivers have renewed their learner permit at least four times.
“We have actually got over 8,000 drivers out there on their 10th learner permit or more,” Ms Murdock added.
“Many of these people haven’t even taken a driving test. They haven’t even tried to pass one.”
Now, the RSA is asking learners to come forward and take the test. The waiting time for a driving test nationally is around six weeks and 83 new testers have been recruited since the beginning of 2018.
“We want to make sure that the message is loud and clear: it is illegal to drive unaccompanied and if you do, you will be detected by gardaí and you will face the consequences,” said Ms Murdock.
Gardaí have already increased the enforcement of learner driver laws and will be clamping down further in the future.
Since new laws were introduced at the beginning of 2018, more than 1,600 cars have been seized from unaccompanied drivers.
Chief Superintendent Paul Cleary said that in a lot of cases learner drivers were removing their plates to avoid detection.
Some 2,311 drivers have been detected not displaying L plates already this year.
Chief Supt Cleary said that drivers could face double penalisation for not displaying their plates and driving unaccompanied by a driver with a full licence.
“We are out there enforcing,” he said.
He added that a car owner could also be prosecuted for knowingly lending their vehicle to an unaccompanied learner driver, potentially receiving two penalty points and a fine of up to €2,000.