Government called on to act on legacy issues as figures reveal 3,374 learner permit drivers in Leitrim

News Reporter


News Reporter

Government called on to act on legacy issues as figures reveal  3,374 learner permit drivers in Leitrim

Despite coming in for criticism on their driving behaviour, figures reveal that Ireland’s youngest drivers on learner permits are in fact the best at fulfilling their driving responsibilities, by taking lessons and passing their test in a timely manner.

The figures, sourced by online insurance brokers, reveal the same cannot be said for those aged 30-plus who are on their fifth, sixth, seventh or even tenth learner driver permit and latest statistics from the RSA show that there are 3,374 “learner” drivers in Leitrim alone.

Insurance experts at are calling on the Government to address these learner permit “lifers”, who they believe may be clogging up the system and costing themselves, and the taxpayer, significant sums of money each year.

Deirdre McCarthy of explains, “We did some homework around the number of learner drivers in the country and found the figures on multiple learner permits pretty staggering – there are 65,000+ people on their 3rd or more learner permit. And 36,814 of them are on their 5th or greater permit, some of whom are in their 30’s, 40’s, 50’s or 60’s! While a few may be late bloomers when it comes to driving, it’s apparent that many have been on the roads for years, without either taking or passing the driving test.

Recent reports have highlighted the lengthy delays driving test wait times across the country with some people waiting up to 25 weeks to sit their test. Something needs to be done to address this backlog and we believe that if people were restricted in the number of times they could be granted a learner permit, it would lessen the number of driving test applications as people move from a learner permit to a full licence”.

The online brokers are advocating changes to the system to limit the number of learner permits that motorists can carry, or at least, to ensure that learner permit holders are required to actually take, rather than simply apply for, the test before getting another permit.

“There are approximately 3,374 motorists in Leitrim on learner permits – how many of these are on permit no. 3 or greater?

We believe these numbers need to be tackled for a variety of reasons. Aside from the safety aspect of passing your driving test, there are also several financial benefits in doing so. If these motorists were to move from learners to fully licensed drivers, we propose they would save on 3 fronts:

Test fees – to be approved for any learner permit from the 3rd up you need to have applied & paid for your test in the preceding 12 months. The cost of this would be €85 per year.
Learner Permit fees – unlike a full licence which is valid for up to 10 years (under 60yrs), learner permits only last for 2 years (for 1st & 2nd permits), at which point they must be renewed, at a cost of €35
Fully licenced drivers pay significantly less money for motor insurance. Recent quotes we calculated revealed that moving from a provisional to a full license alone can reduce premiums by anywhere from 30 – 80%” believe there are a variety of factors impacting the figures – the most obvious of which is the 45,000-strong driving test waiting list currently in the country, with a wait time of anywhere between 10 to 28 weeks in some areas.

But the online brokers say the age breakdown points to other legacy-based issues.

Ms. McCarthy continued, “While younger drivers must be praised for their pro-activity in getting their full licence, older drivers deserve some degree of understanding as to why so many have yet to get theirs. We believe that the high figure for these age cohorts has its origins maybe 30/40 years ago, to a much laxer system of resourcing and inspection, and a time when staying on provisional licenses was largely the norm.

In all likelihood, over the years licencing regulators have had a difficult time keeping track of those who were on second or third permits, particularly each time there was a flood of applications that the system, as it was then, couldn’t handle.”

“Measures such as the Amnesty of 1979 exemplified the hitherto lax cultural attitude towards the procurement of a full license, a prevalent attitude of the day which, perhaps, still exists in the attitude of 40/50/60 somethings towards it.” contend that it is the Government’s responsibility to ensure that these “learner lifers” fully comply with the road regulations for the benefit of themselves and all road users.

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