Sunday 23 September 2018

Plan to 'name and shame' banned drivers delayed by fears over privacy

Shane Ross
Shane Ross
Paul Melia

Paul Melia

Plans to 'name and shame' drivers disqualified by the courts have been delayed due to data protection issues.

Transport Minister Shane Ross said "privacy issues" had arisen in relation to plans to publish a list of drivers disqualified by the courts, but he insisted he still planned to introduce the measure to help improve road safety.

A mid-term review of the 2013-2020 Road Safety Strategy also called for a range of sanctions to be introduced to help reduce the death toll, including a sharp rise in the number of gardaí dedicated to roads policing.

Other measures proposed by the Road Safety Authority (RSA) include automatic disqualification for those caught driving above the drink-driving limit, increased penalty points for speeding and mobile phone use, and giving gardaí powers to seize vehicles driven by unaccompanied learners.

The review calls for Garda numbers in the roads policing unit - which has 681 members - to increase by 10pc a year up to 2020 to reach almost 1,000. Before the economic crash, the number stood at 1,200.

RSA chair Liz O'Donnell said independent auditing of enforcement activity was also required, and a new command structure should be introduced with an assistant commissioner responsible for roads policing.

"Enforcement is the key," she said. "Gardaí are our key partners. We need more of them, specially trained, and we need independent auditing of roads policing. The veracity of figures from An Garda Síochána is extremely important because we depend on those figures to analyse and propose policy."

Deaths

The mid-term review warns that the State faces an increase in road traffic deaths unless sanctions for the "main killer behaviours", including drink driving, are not increased.

While 2017 was the safest year on record with 158 fatalities, there are growing concerns a target to reduce fatalities to 124 by 2020 will not be met.

The review says a "back to basics" approach is needed.

"The focus must be on the main killer behaviours… that have been proven to contribute to fatal collisions on our roads in recent years," it says.

"Interventions to address these killer behaviours must be further developed and enhanced, in particular targeted visible enforcement and harsher penalties for non-compliance."

In particular, it says An Garda Síochána must be equipped to provide "targeted and visible enforcement".

In addition, more money is needed to improve dangerous roads. "At this the mid-point in the Government's Road Safety Strategy 2013-2020, we are faced with a stark but very simple choice," it says.

If the strategy is not updated, deaths will rise, it adds, pointing to a link between increased economic activity and fatalities. In a worst-case scenario, 222 people could be killed this year, rising to 231 in 2019 and 238 in 2020.

Mr Ross said he planned to go ahead with plans to name and shame disqualified drivers, but issues had to be overcome.

"We committed to introducing legislation as early as possible," he said. "It is more difficult because of some data protection rules and it's under consideration by our lawyers."

Sources said a study was required to identify if the prospect of being named would force drivers to change their behaviour. They also said that if a list could not be made publicly available, it would examine if safety bosses could advise employers that workers had been disqualified.

Irish Independent

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