THE number of penalty points issued to motorists fell to 257,000 last year, a drop of almost 10pc.
The Central Statistics Office (CSO) said more than three-quarters of the points issued were for speeding – with men more likely to receive points than women.
Although there was a sharp rise in the overall number of offences detected, the figures suggest that more motorists were being caught committing less serious offences, which attract fewer points.
For example, driving on the hard shoulder of the motorway incurs one point, but speeding carries a two-point penalty for the driver.
The CSO figures show:
• The number of points issued for failing to obey traffic signs fell by 76pc, with just 87 issued in 2011, compared with 357 the previous year.
• Just 14 motorists were penalised for failing to turn left on a roundabout, compared with 56 in 2010.
• There was a 6pc increase in points imposed for speeding – up from 188,791 to 199,189.
• There was also an increase in the number of people forced to go to court for using a vehicle without an NCT – up 8pc, from 1,966 to 2,133.
The Garda Press Office said enforcement of road-traffic legislation was a priority and urged road users to take care in the run-up to Christmas. Some 153 people have died on the roads so far this year – down 15 on the same period in 2011. Eighteen lives were lost in December of last year.
The CSO's Transport Omnibus 2011 also says that nearly 128,000 sat driving tests last year, with an average pass rate of 51pc. One in 10 drivers has a learner permit.
The CSO figures also show that almost half (49.9pc) fell into the lowest motor tax A and B bands. These are expected to increase by up to €50 each in Wednesday's Budget.
Almost 985,000 cars underwent an NCT in 2001, with 93pc passing after one or more tests.
The figures also show that 195 million passengers were carried on scheduled bus services last year, 37.4 million people travelled by rail and there were more than 29 million Luas users.