This came in on the newsfeeds. It’s a letter to the Irish Times from someone who doesn’t have a clue.
It’s worth pointing out that from what I am told by my Irish pupils, until last year the standard way of obtaining a licence in Ireland was to get a provisional, take one driving lesson, and then drive for the rest of your life without fear of any legal comeback whatsoever. And I’m not making that up. It was possible to get a full licence, but it didn’t require much effort (and the “effort” wasn’t necessarily the kind that involved passing a test). Documentation was almost non-existent.
Ireland was forced into line by the EU – which was a good thing, because in the early part of this century, tax breaks meant that there was a lot of Irish labour over here, and being members of the EU meant that they could drive in the UK with no restrictions. The overall standard demonstrated was absolutely appalling. Again, I’m not making that up – though I’m sure that crazy woman from Manchester who wrote to me a while back is hyperventilating over the fact that I have said it.
I’ve reported before on the typical attitude of older Irish drivers. In that story from 2011, a 61-year old failed to get a test fail reversed in court (it was his seventh appeal against being failed), and his defence was based solely on the fact that he had “been driving for 44 years”.
As of April 2011, anyone obtaining a learner permit in Ireland for the first time is required to do mandatory training, and must be accompanied at all times by a qualified driver who has held their licence for at least 2 years.
Anyway, the letter I mentioned runs as follows:
Sir, – Your Front Page article (December 11th) states there are 271,000 learner drivers in this country. That a recent Garda operation found 50 per cent of learner drivers were driving unaccompanied is hardly surprising.
Why do learner drivers feel it is necessary to break the law? Perhaps most of them have no choice. It is rare that a job is to be found within walking or cycling distance of one’s home. Outside the cities, public transport is minimal. Even in the cities, public transport is often not suitable. A qualified driver may not be available, or a lift with someone going your way. The job may not pay enough to justify renting a dwelling closer to it.
Instead of criminalising learner drivers with penalty points and €1,000 fines, it might be better if the Road Safety Authority produced a TV series on how to be a better and safer driver, which would be shown regularly on TV and the internet. Then anyone, of any age, at any time, could revise their driving skills. Keep the compulsory driving lessons. Also, perhaps all learner drivers could be restricted to a maximum of 65km/h, with penalty points awarded for breaking that particular law or non-display of L-plates.
Finally, something which the Government might understand. If you can’t get to work, how can you take up that job and pay tax to the Government? If 271,000 decided not to drive, that’s 271,000 fewer road taxes to be collected, 271,000 fewer insurance policies to be sold, less excise duty and VAT at 91 cent per litre. God only knows how much would be lost to the exchequer.
There is a problem with driving standards in this country, but criminalising and beating down learner drivers starting out in life is not the most effective way of going about it.
I have had a full driving licence since 1993 and am not writing merely because I am a learner driver. – Yours, etc,
What this guy is advocating is a return to the old system! To let learners drive unsupervised for as long as they want – but to produce a TV series to “educate” them by way of a smokescreen.
He completely fails to understands that the reason the new Irish system is not being adhered to is precisely because of the cowboy operation it used to be. He is the worst kind of modern-day, namby-pamby liberal – the kind that gets whatever country they live in into a mess to begin with by trying to remove barriers on grounds of “rights” and “civil liberties”. The reason so many are flouting the law is because that’s the kind of people they are! We have that sort over here, too, and they regularly appear on the cop shows on TV.
One suspects that in spite of his last sentence and disclaimer over any vested interest, there just might be someone he is thinking of when he writes what he has written.