Learner drivers won’t have room for a qualified person beside them on older tractors

Michael Fitzmaurice: Bureaucracy gone mad!
Michael Fitzmaurice: Bureaucracy gone mad!

PROPOSED new laws in relation to learner drivers could end up crippling the agricultural contracting industry as well as ‘pulverising’ small farmers across the West of Ireland, a TD has warned this week.

Roscommon-Galway Independent TD, Michael Fitzmaurice, told the Farming Tribune that just bringing in rafts of ‘draconian rules and regulations’ without any solutions would be another nail in the coffin for rural Ireland.

“How, in the name of God, could a learner driver on a Massey Ferguson 165 or a Massey 35X have a fully qualified driver on the tractor when there is only seat on the machine. This does not make any sense.

“I know that there are silage contractors all around the West of Ireland who rely on competent young drivers to get them through the busy Summer season – what’s going to h happen here if they have no one to driver their tractors,” said Deputy Fitzmaurice.

Earlier this month, Transport Minister, Shane Ross, brought legislation to the Cabinet for approval that would mean the owner of a vehicle facing prosecution if he/she allowed an unaccompanied driver to go behind the wheel.

The new law would also empower Gardai to seize a vehicle being driven by an unaccompanied learner driver with the law applying to all vehicles, including tractors.  The measures follow overtures made to the Minister are in response to a request by a man, who lost his wife and daughter in a crash involving an unaccompanied learner driver in Cork in December, 2015.

However, Deputy Fitzmaurice wants solutions put in place that will help to get young people safely driving their vehicles on the road without ‘obstacle after obstacle’ being put in their way.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.