Seanad debates

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Road Traffic (No. 2) Bill 2014: Second Stage


4:35 pm

Photo of John KellyJohn Kelly (Labour) | Oireachtas source

I welcome the Minister to the House. Senator O'Neill explained very clearly the technicalities of what this Bill seeks to achieve. I have concerns regarding the retrospective aspect of the legislation. I hope it works, but we will not know that until such time as we see whether there is a legal challenge to it. Perhaps the way around this problem would have been to wipe any penalty points given between 1 August and the enactment of this Bill.

Senator O'Donovan made a very valid point in regard to NCTs. In some parts of the country, one will get an appointment within a fortnight, while in other locations there could be a wait of five months. A solution might be to oblige motorists either to have a valid NCT or be able to prove they applied to have the test done before the expiration of the previous certificate.

I am being opportunistic in raising the issue on which I will conclude. It relates to the renewal of provisional licences, particularly for older drivers. I met two elderly people in the past two months, one aged 72 and the other 77, who never had a full licence in their lives. In each case, a provisional licence was repeatedly renewed. However, because one does not get notification that one's licence is about to expire, these individuals did not notice that the time had come and now they are both obliged to sit a theory test. I can guarantee I would not pass that test and I suspect the Minister might not pass it either. The only people who are able to pass theory tests are 18 year olds applying for licences for the first time. They are so anxious to get on the road that they will put in the required study time. Will the Minister consider making some provision for older people in the circumstances I described and looking sympathetically at their cases? They might not pass the theory test but they have been driving all their lives, they are careful and do not get into accidents, and they can fulfil any other requirements, medical or otherwise. They should not be put through a theory test that they simply will not be able to pass. In the meantime, the two individuals to whom I referred are currently without a licence and off the road.


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