The Road Safety Authority (RSA) considers motorists inexperienced until they have driven over 100,000km in all traffic and weather conditions.
That means it would take a driver an estimated seven years to complete.
Therefore, newly qualified drivers in Ireland have to display an N plate on their car.
But what is an N plate, and what do newly qualified Irish drivers need to know?
Since August 2014, all newly qualified drivers in Ireland have to display an N (Novice) plate on their cars.
And in the last six years, new drivers have wondered what the N plate means and the expectations on them as newbies.
Here’s everything you need to know.
How long do I have to display an N plate after passing my driving test?
Drivers will have to display their novice plate for 730 days (two years) after passing their test.
What about penalty points?
As a new driver, the penalty points system is a lot more stringent.
That’s because statistically, newly qualified drivers are at more risk of collisions.
You will have sanctions imposed on you at just over half the level of other drivers.
And be careful about alcohol intake too; again this is half the level of the threshold for experienced drivers.
Although you might think these rules are unfair, they’re designed to protect the most vulnerable group of road users in Ireland; you, the newly qualified driver.
The plates alert other road users too.
Your N plates alert other road users that you’re a new driver.
That means they may choose to drive a little further behind you than usual to give you space to drive.
It also means if you brake suddenly, drivers will be far enough behind and have time to react.
Displaying your N plates tells the world, “I’m an inexperienced driver, please be cautious and patient with me while I learn!”
N plates serve as a reminder to you, the driver, of the expectations on you.
Statistically, one in five newly qualified drivers will crash in the six months after passing their test.
As a result of that shocking statistic, the N plate is a legal requirement.
And with your N plate comes specific responsibilities.
Since being brought into law six years ago, new drivers have to display their N plates at the front and back of their car.
Failure to do so could result in a fine up to €1,000 and penalty points.
N plate holders cannot accompany learner drivers either.
Also, if an N plate driver racks up six penalty points, they will be banned for six months from driving.
The law isn’t designed to curtail your new driving adventures.
The aim is to keep you – and other road users – safe while you gain vital experience on busy roads.
By the time you are ready to take down your N plates, you’ll be a much more experienced, accomplished and confident driver.