Speeding fines will be linked to what you earn in bid to end road 'carnage'

Backing idea: Moyagh Murdock

Eddie Cunningham

Motorists face having speeding fines linked to their salaries under radical new road-safety proposals.

Higher earners would have to pay more if caught breaking the limit, which could mean a driver on €50,000 a year paying €1,000 if caught speeding.

It is understood the earnings-based plan is being strongly considered by the Road Safety Authority (RSA) and details of it will be sent to Transport Minister Shane Ross.

Speed is known to contribute to a high proportion of deaths and injuries on our roads. Experts are looking at tougher deterrents and penalties for those who break the limits.

A spokesman from the RSA confirmed to the Irish Independent the income-linked system was being seriously considered. He said the authority's chief executive, Moyagh Murdock, fully supported the idea of linking how much you pay in speeding fines to how much you earn each week.

She is a firm supporter of the system in Finland where fines are linked to an offender's income. One of the most famous cases from Finland was a millionaire businessman who was fined €54,000 for speeding.

The RSA spokesman said it expected to submit the proposals to the Department of Transport as soon as possible.

If adopted, the new system could work on a similar basis to that in the UK where authorities this week substantially increased the percentage of salary you pay if caught speeding.

They have tweaked the old format so there is now a 25pc minimum increase in what drivers will face if detected.

The higher earnings-based penalties are also combined with varying lengths of disqualification for the worst offenders.

The new guidelines for UK magistrates say fines for drivers doing 51mph (82kmh) in a 30mph (48kmh) zone should start from 150pc of weekly pay.

Similar levels of fines are set out for those doing more than 101mph (160km) in a 70mph (112km) zone, for example.

Those represent big rises on the previous 100pc of weekly income. Such drivers will also be disqualified for between seven and 56 days - or get six penalty points. The maximum fines are not changing, however, with offenders hit for a total of £1,000 (€1,180) on ordinary roads and £2,500 (€2,950) on a motorway.

Currently, speeding in Ireland incurs three penalty points, or five on conviction, and a fixed charge of €80 if paid within 28 days (€120 for the subsequent 28 days).

A detailed, forensic 'Pre-Crash Report' published last year by the RSA showed how speed contributed to the deaths of 64 people on average each year.

Based on forensic data compiled in Garda investigations and analysed by RSA research manager Maggie Martin, it detailed how speed was a contributory factor in 274 (32pc) of 867 collisions over the five-year period between 2008 and 2012.

In her report, Ms Martin painted a chilling picture of the cases she studied. "So many people are losing control of their cars on bends because they are driving too fast," she said.

"Cars were hurtling out of control. They were breaking through hedges. They somersaulted. They were gouging the tarmac. They were ejecting their drivers and passengers. It is carnage."