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Irish car owners face penalties if learners drive alone

L-plate on car Image copyright PA
Image caption Car owners in the Republic of Ireland who allow learner drivers to use their vehicles unaccompanied now face tough new penalties

Stricter laws on Irish car owners who allow learner drivers to use their vehicles unaccompanied have come into effect.

It brings the Republic into line with Northern Ireland by penalising car owners with fines or jail terms.

Up until the introduction of the legislation on Saturday, unaccompanied learner drivers only faced action, while car owners were not sanctioned.

Learner drivers are involved in an average of 12 fatal crashes each year.

Figures from the Irish Road Safety Authority show that of those 12 collisions, 10 involve learners who are not being supervised by a qualified driver.

The changes in the law have been referred to as the Clancy Amendment, with Saturday marking the third anniversary of the deaths of Geraldine Clancy and her daughter Louise in a crash with an unaccompanied learner driver in County Cork.

Car owners who allow learner drivers to use their vehicles unaccompanied face fines of up to €1,000, up to six months in jail, or could have their cars seized.

Transport Minister Shane Ross said the new rules were not about "crucifying" rural Ireland but rather saving lives.

A new public awareness campaign will also be launched to warn people of the dangers of allowing learners to drive unsupervised.

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