Gardai and road safety officials in Co Donegal are becoming increasingly concerned about young people driving farm machinery without licenses on public roads.
With the evenings lengthening and children off school because of the Covid lockdown, more time is being spent in fields.
Donegal County Council’s Road Safety Officer Brian O’Donnell has said children “hopping” from field to field is becoming a real issue.
He said “The reality is that many of these children are underage and are simply being given the keys to tractors and quads and told to move them from one field to another.
“Very often they have to use the public road when doing that and it’s not on. For many of them, this is their first time behind the wheel and they are learning to drive.
“They are meeting other road-users and simply don’t have the experience of the roads and accidents are going to happen,” he said.
The issue was raised recently at a meeting of Donegal’s Road Safety committee.
Gardai have confirmed they are also becoming more aware of young people driving farm machinery without the proper licenses.
Superintendent Goretti Sheridan said parents have a role to play in guiding children on the use of such vehicles.
She said “We are becoming increasingly concerned about the amount of young children being permitted to operate farm machinery on public roads.
“This has become a problem lately, maybe because it is because of the evenings getting longer. But I would worry that it could end with someone being seriously injured or killed.”
The Buncrana-based officer confirmed that Gardai in her district seized three quads in a week recently.
The vehicles were lifted because they were being driven recklessly.
During lockdown and with farm machinery more noticeable on the roads because of the lack of other vehicles, Gardai are routinely stopping the drivers of farm machinery at checkpoints.
One farmer stopped at a routine checkpoint in Ballyshannon recently wasn’t expecting to meet Gardai.
When stopped and tested, the driver was found to have both cocaine and cannabis in his system as he drove his tractor.
He was also found to have a quantity of cannabis herb concealed in the cab of his tractor.
The farmer will appear at a sitting of the local courts in the coming weeks.Tags: