Friday 23 August 2019

Six learner drivers a day slapped with penalty points since 2014

Garda Traffic Corps
Garda Traffic Corps

Meadhbh McGrath

Over 3,000 learner drivers have received penalty points for driving unaccompanied since changes to the penalty points system were introduced in 2014.

Figures released to the Irish Examiner by the Department of Transport note that points have been applied to six learner drivers a day since December 2014, amount to a total of 3,129.

Some 895 of those were issued in the first four months of this year.

Points were handed to 1,566 learner drivers for failing to display their L-plates, while a further 148 novice drivers also received penalty points for failing to display their N-plates.

Changes to the penalty points system were introduced in 2014 which increased the points for nine existing offences, including failing to stop a vehicle before a stop sign and dangerous overtaking.

The new system also added 14 new motoring offences, including driving unaccompanied, failing to display an L-plate or N-plate.

Read More: Ireland's 'high-risk' zones: Gardaí add 355 new speed camera spots to country's roads

For those new penalty point categories, two points are due on payment of a fixed charge, or four on conviction court.

“The figures show clearly that there is evidence of enforcement taking place,” Conor Faughnan, director of consumer affairs for AA Ireland, told the Examiner.

“However, on the other hand, the numbers aren’t enormous, in relation to the driving population. We have over two million private cars on Irish roads, so I think most of us would accept that these are probably the tip of the iceberg.”

He added that cuts to the numbers in the Garda Traffic Corps were affecting the force’s abilities to impose the points.

Mr Faughnan did note that “major strides” had ben made in Irish road safety in the last decade.

“It’s important to note that the number of people killed and injured on the roads here has improved over the last 10 to 15 years.

“However, it’s almost an obscenity that 166 deaths on the roads last year is seen as a good year, but in terms of where we were a dozen years ago or so, where we had over 400 people dying on the roads, it’s clear that we have made strides and that driver behaviour has improved.”

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