Point notices treble as cameras nab drivers
THE number of drivers getting penalty points has trebled following the introduction of privately operated speed cameras at the start of the year.
The total number on the Road Safety Authority's national register increased by 50,303 between January and the end of last month. This compares with just 16,433 in the same period last year.
Just one in 20 motorists had points seven years ago. Now this has soared to almost one in three.
The majority of drivers have just two points -- 540,000 -- and now drive in fear of an increase in their insurance premiums if they get any more.
Only 135 motorists have so far been put off the road for six months for clocking up 12 points.
Penalty points are credited with helping the steady fall in Irish road deaths.
Speeding accounts for 596,196 penalty point notices since the system was introduced in 2002. Using a hand-held mobile phone while driving accounted for 97,428 while there were 48,521 notices for not wearing a seat belt.
'Amber gamblers' -- those caught breaking traffic lights -- made up 23,963 point detections.
In 2004, when there were two million vehicles on Irish roads, just 93,000 drivers were caught for point offences.
By the end of last month, with 2.4 million vehicles on the road, this had soared to 732,710 drivers.
The increase coincides with the start-up of the GoSafe speed cameras. However, the Listowel-based company is not paid on the basis of the number caught speeding by their cameras.
Rather there is a fixed-price contract to carry out 6,000 hours of traffic monitoring every month. This is believed to be worth €65m over five years.
Double penalty points are on the way this autumn for learner drivers and those on the new system of 'R' restricted driving plates for two years after passing the driving test. This is bound to increase numbers on penalty points.
The vast majority of point notices were issued to motorists holding full drivers' licences (418,687) compared with 28,325 for those on learner permits.
The figures again highlight the ongoing problem of Northern and foreign drivers getting away with offences because there is no cross border system and therefore offenders don't get any points or fines.
A huge total of 285,698 are listed as ' no driver number' meaning that they are mainly from the North and cannot be punished.