Thursday 29 September 2016

Disqualified drivers will be 'named and shamed' online

Published 26/11/2015 | 02:30

Chief Executive of the Road Safety Authority Moyagh Murdock
Chief Executive of the Road Safety Authority Moyagh Murdock

Road safety chiefs want the identities of drivers put off the roads by the courts to be "as widely known as possible".

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The Road Safety Authority (RSA) intends to start 'naming and shaming' disqualified motorists on its website from early next year after consultation with the Data Protection Commissioner indicated there is "no obstacle" to doing so.

The person's name will remain on the website and be available for the media to report for the duration of their suspension.

It comes as figures reveal that gardaí have arrested 456 disqualified drivers on the spot since they were given new powers to do so at the end of June.

Gardaí also revealed statistics yesterday that show 87pc of drink-driving cases brought before the courts this year resulted in a conviction.

In the 10 months to the end of October, gardaí arrested 5,951 drivers on suspicion of driving under the influence of an intoxicant, of which 5,281 were over the legal limit.

The Court Service has indicated that for the first seven months of 2015, a total of 2,334 drink-driving cases were heard in full and decided upon by the District Courts. This resulted in 2,021 convictions and 313 were dismissed.

Deputy Commissioner John Twomey told the Oireachtas Committee on Transport: "While there have been significant changes in the drink driving culture in Ireland over the last decade, drink driving continues to be a major contributory factor to road deaths and injuries on Irish roads."

RSA chief executive Moyagh Murdock said that one initiative aimed at bringing a "societal change" would be the naming of drivers who are disqualified for offences like drink-driving.

"We know from a nationally representative survey of 1,000 motorists, conducted in November 2014, that one in 10 drivers (nearly 300,000 drivers) admitted to drinking alcohol before driving in the last 12 months; we know that 62pc of drivers believe that it's not safe to drive having taken any alcohol," she said.

"We can take from this that there is still ambivalence and in some cases contempt among some drivers about drinking and driving."

Asked how the 'name and shame' process would work, the RSA told the Irish Independent they would publish the names on their website. "There's precedent for this sort of approach in that the NTA publishes details of taxi driver disqualifications and the Director of Corporate Enforcement provides outcomes of court cases in which it has been involved.

"The Revenue Commissioners also publish the list of tax defaulters on a quarterly basis," the RSA said. The Committee was also updated on the progress being made to introduce new legislation for drug-drivers.

As revealed by the Irish Independent on Monday, gardaí are to get roadside kits capable of testing motorists for illegal substances early next year.

The RSA said that this will help to build up statistics on the number of people who use drugs before driving.

Deputy Commissioner Twomey said legislation would create a new offence of driving/being in charge of a mechanically propelled vehicle with the presence of certain specified drugs in the blood.

As of November 23, there have been 138 fatal collisions on Irish roads this year, resulting in 144 deaths.

This represents 26 fewer collisions and 34 fewer deaths compared to the same day in 2014.

The average number of fatalities for 2015 to date stands at 13 deaths per month, compared to 16 deaths per month in 2014.

Irish Independent

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