| 5.3°C Dublin

Motorists facing extra points on raft of offences

MOTORISTS caught significantly above the speed limit will get far more on-the-spot penalty points than those who clock in at just a few kilometres over.

The measure is part of a radical overhaul of the penalty system involving extra points for a raft of offences, including speeding, using a mobile phone and not wearing seat belts.

The changes mean that drivers a few kilometres over the limit will get three points -- one more than at present -- while those nabbed, say, at 40kmh above the prevailing limit will get even more points.

Doubling penalty points for mobile phone use from two to four and tripling points from two to six for not wearing seat belts are also among the proposals published yesterday by Transport Minister Leo Varadkar.

The precise details of the graduated range of penalty points for speed offences is being worked out in talks between gardai and the Department of Transport.

Corresponding penalty point increases are also proposed if drivers opt to go to court and lose: for example, 10 points for not wearing seatbelts, and up to five points for a mobile phone and speeding. Other hikes in court forfeits are also being worked out.

While the increases in points are to be included in the new Road Traffic Bill 2012, they are unlikely to be introduced until sometime early next year.

Higher points are already in most of the 10 other countries surveyed in the review, which urges authorities to bring Irish law into line.

The average in other countries is three to four points for speeding, doubling if a driver opts to go to court and loses.

The proposed measures are designed to give a major push to the 10-year-old penalty points system as drivers could quickly find themselves off the road for six months.

The review finds that speed, falling asleep at the wheel, and alcohol/drugs are the biggest cause of fatal single-vehicle crashes, while most head-on fatal crashes are caused by going over to the wrong side of the road, speeding, driving through stop and yield signs and improper overtaking.


Mr Varakdar said he would consider the report's recommendations in consultation with the Oireachtas Transport Committee, and any agreed changes would be included in the new Road Traffic Bill 2012 due to be published later in the year.

"The number of penalty points should be proportionate to the gravity of the offence in terms of road safety," he said.

The bill will also include new powers for gardai to impound and sell uninsured cars.

Meanwhile, four new 'Learning to Drive' manuals for those on learner permits and their sponsors have been published by the Road Safety Authority, which is giving away a limited number of copies on its Facebook page -- facebook.com/ RSADrivingTest.

Irish Independent