Research | Should ‘accompanied driver rule’ be scrapped

Almost 50% of drivers believe that the ‘accompanied driver rule’ should be scrapped, according to new Aviva research

Fewer than 1 in 5 drivers agree with granting an amnesty to learner drivers due to backlog in driving tests

Almost half of drivers (49%) believe that the accompanied driver rule should be scrapped for learner drivers, with 1 in 4 (25%) of them saying that this rule should be scrapped altogether.  However, a similar number of drivers (25%) feel that it should be temporarily scrapped until the driver test backlog is cleared.  This is according to new research carried out by iReach Insights of 1,000 people nationwide on behalf of Aviva Insurance Ireland DAC (Aviva).  The other key finding from the survey showed that fewer than 1 in 5 (19%) drivers believe that an amnesty should be given to learner drivers due to the large backlog of driving test applications, as was done back in 1979.

The Aviva survey found that:

  • Most of the 25% who agree that the accompanied driver rule should be scrapped were those aged 18-24 at 44%, followed by 33% of those aged between 45-54 (33%).
  • More women (27%) than men at 24% believed the rule should be scrapped.
  • Of the 25% who believe it should only be scrapped temporarily until the driving test backlog is cleared, the majority were aged 25-34 years of age (31%), 26% of whom were women, while 23% were men.
  • 60% of the 51% who believe that the accompanied driver rule should not be scrapped as it was introduced for safety reasons were aged 55+, followed by 51% of those aged 25-34.
  • More than half (53%) of the 51% who believe the rule should not be scrapped were men.

It is against the law for drivers with a learner permit to drive unaccompanied on Irish roads or indeed for someone to allow their vehicle to be driven by an unaccompanied learner driver and penalties will apply to those who do so if convicted. These include the impounding of the car, and the owner of the vehicle could be fined up to €1,000, in addition to receiving four penalty points on their licence. Learner drivers must always have someone with a full driving licence in the car with them and that person must have their licence for a minimum of two years. The reality is that a learner driver with no accompanying driver has no insurance cover if they cause an accident.

Mike Kavanagh, Aviva Driving School

New figures released under the Freedom of Information Act last May highlighted that there was a backlog of over 70,000 people waiting for their driving test. Whilst we have sympathy for those who are waiting for extended periods to sit their test, it is heartening to note that most drivers recognise the importance of adhering to the rule from a safety perspective. We have all heard the anecdotes whereby learner drivers have sometimes lost out on employment opportunities or indeed college places as they were unable to sit their test when they wanted. However, safety for inexperienced drivers and indeed other road users must remain paramount even if it is inconvenient.

Mike Kavanagh, Aviva Driving School

In 1979 over 60,000 drivers were given an amnesty as they were granted a full driving licence without sitting a driving test due to the large backlog of driving test applicants at that time.  The Aviva survey found that only 19% of respondents agreed that an amnesty should now be introduced for learner drivers in recognition of the backlog today.

  • Of the 19% who agreed with the introduction of an amnesty, 21% were aged 25-34, 20% aged 35-54.
  • The 81% of those surveyed who believed it would be reckless to introduce an amnesty to learner drivers were represented almost equally across all the different age cohorts.
  • The number of cars on our roads over 40 years ago was significantly less than those on our roads today and it is no great surprise that most of those surveyed would consider that the introduction of an amnesty for learner drivers would be reckless.  Today’s cars are faster and more powerful than those built in the 70s”, concluded Mike Kavanagh.  

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