Lack of resources blamed for fall in number of points issued
THE number of penalty points issued on Irish roads fell by almost 12pc in 2013, with drivers in Dublin the biggest offenders.
Despite the increase in the number of road deaths, gardai issued 28,672 fewer points than in 2012.
Figures, released by the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, showed that 43,171 offences were recorded in Dublin, accounting for 20pc of the country's total.
The overall amount of people disqualified from driving also dropped, from 263 in 2012 to 245 in 2013. Director for Consumer Affairs for AA Ireland, Conor Faughnan, said that the statistics were a worrying indication of what's happening on Irish roads.
"If the number of collisions is up, the amount of traffic on the roads is up and the number of deaths are up, how is it possible that the number of penalty points is down?" he asked.
More than half of drivers put off the road were from Dublin, where 125 reached the 12-point maximum limit. This is an increase of 19 motorists banned in the capital last year.
Leitrim (1,424) continued to be the county with the least amount of penalty points, with less than 1pc of the total issued. Longford was close behind with 1,946 offences penalised.
Speeding was the single biggest offence and accounted for 77pc of points recorded.
People that were caught driving while holding their phones were the second highest offenders (11pc), although the number of people sanctioned was down by 2,349 from the previous year.
There was a massive drop in the number of people penalised for not wearing a seatbelt. The figure fell from 5,691 in 2012 to just 378 last year.
Tipperary saw the greatest increase in the number of points received by drivers, with an additional 1,307 issued since 2012.
Eight other counties recorded a hike in penalty points: Carlow (+247), Cavan (+195), Kilkenny (+118), Laois (+347), Mayo (+324), Monaghan (+434), Waterford (+753) and Wexford (+459).
Nearly 16pc of those handed penalty points either had no driver number or didn't hold an Irish licence.
Mr Faughnan backed comments by outgoing chairperson of the Road Safety Authority, Gay Byrne, who said that there weren't enough gardai out and about on the roads.
"The problem in 2013 was that we didn't invest in the traffic corps because the proper resources aren't being provided by the Government," Mr Faughnan explained.
Despite his criticisms, Mr Faughnan emphasised his support for the members of An Garda Siochana, who work on the road.
"The problems at the moment are not the fault of the gardai.
"The AA have engaged with all members of the force and I know first-hand that they are very passionate about improving conditions on the road, but their hands are tied because they can't complain," he added.