Friday 21 October 2016

Penalty point dodgers running out of road

Published 04/08/2015 | 02:30

To date, penalty points have been in the news for all the wrong reasons
To date, penalty points have been in the news for all the wrong reasons

They say that two wrongs don't make a right and that two lefts make a U-turn. But a U-turn was precisely what was required in this country when it comes to penalty points.

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To date, penalty points have been in the news for all the wrong reasons. Today, we reveal the alarming ruses employed to flout them.

The news that a register of drivers' licences is to be compiled, to make sure that the points actually do hit their intended target, is to be welcomed. If anything, it begs the question of why has it taken this long to introduce such a plan, given the rate of carnage on our roads.

The linking of a driver's licence to their car number for the first time should finally close off any remaining legal loopholes.

Nonetheless, it does seem quite extraordinary that a central register accessible to the Courts Service, the gardaí and the Road Safety Association is only now coming into being.

And even this presumes that an integrated computer system will be in place for all to avail of.

It also supposes that there will be no exceptions or opt-outs. All the essential resources must be put in place to make sure that this is not a false dawn in the area of enforcement.

The revelation by the Road Safety Authority that just one in every 25 drivers put off the road in court in recent years has actually surrendered their licence is also nothing short of alarming.

Many will equally regard it as completely incomprehensible that seven drivers out of every 10 convicted of penalty point offences could escape punishment simply by failing to bring their licence into court. Such figures makes a mockery of our traffic laws.

And it must be massively demoralising for the gardaí if they get so far as the courthouse, only to see a driver walking away unpunished by taking advantage of a flawed system.

Failure to have an integrated, streamlined method of tracking and applying points has completely undermined the efficacy of a leading part of road safety enforcement.

Kenny should heed message of the polls

Talk of the Coalition going for broke with an early general election after October's Budget has dissipated in the wake of a sustained slump in the opinion polls for Fine Gael and the Labour Party.

The re-election gap is too big. Developments in Greece, allegations of payouts around Nama property deals, and the Irish Water fiasco have combined to send the Government parties a message of blunt dissatisfaction with their performance amongst the electorate.

Rather than whining about not getting credit for the economic recovery, Taoiseach Enda Kenny needs to take heed of what the voters are saying: no return to the 'more of the same' culture that got us into trouble in the first place.

The muddled proposition from a disjointed Opposition is less than inspiring, with no coherent grouping capable of providing an alternative government emerging to date.

The country does need stable government for the coming period. But the electorate shouldn't be expected to accept stability at any price, when not accompanied by reform.

The Coalition still has more than six months to prove it is worthy of another stint - or else be pushed aside.

Irish Independent

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