Since Tuesday, holders of a second driver’s learner permit, previously termed the provisional driving licence, are no longer allowed to drive unaccompanied.

Those that ‘take a chance’ and commandeer their vehicle all on their lonesome face a maximum first offence fine of €1,000.

When behind the wheel, such drivers must be accompanied by a fully licensed driver with at least two years of pink-slipped possession.

Regarding how the law will be enforced in Waterford city and county was difficult to ascertain as we went to press.

An officer at Waterford Garda Station was unwilling to be drawn on a national media consensus which suggests that the force will not specifically crack down on those directly affected by the change in our driving laws.

“We are clamping down on a series of road offences as advertised a number of weeks ago, which deal with more than just those with L-plates,” was as far as the Garda was willing to go.

The Chief Superintendent’s office at Tramore Garda Station was also contacted on Tuesday for a comment but no reply was forthcoming as this week’s early edition was ‘put to bed’.

Road Safety Authority Chief Executive Noel Brett confidently stated that the Gardaí would apply the legislative changes “in a proportionate and appropriate” manner.

“It represents a new dawn for road safety,” said Mr Brett. “We are making sure the next generation of licence holders are properly trained. People are not regarding a provisional licence as a licence to drive but rather as a permit to learn.”

According to figures released by the RSA on June 16th, the average waiting times for driving tests in Waterford city and Dungarvan stand at eight and nine weeks respectively.

Pass rates in the city last year were just under 60 per cent (59.8) with the county tally coming to 55.4. The national average in 2007 stood at 57.1 per cent.