Monday 19 March 2018

Lack of joined-up thinking must end

The penalty points system has recently attracted negative headlines
The penalty points system has recently attracted negative headlines
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

The penalty points system has had a rough time of it lately. While no one doubts that it has greatly improved road safety in Ireland, its operation has been far from smooth.

Whether it be whistleblower allegations of garda malpractice or the emergence of loopholes, the system has never been far from negative headlines.

Perhaps it was inevitable that there would be such problems. The various road traffic acts are the most regularly challenged pieces of legislation in the country's courts.

But a lot of this trouble could have been avoided if the penalty points system had been streamlined from day one.

A high-level working group has been examining how to improve things since March of last year, following recommendations by the Garda Inspectorate.

It includes representatives from the Road Safety Authority, An Garda Síochána, the Department of Transport, the Department of Justice and the Courts Service.

With so many stakeholders involved, it is little wonder that flaws in the system have been allowed to fester.

Over the years, there have been accusations of a lack of joined-up thinking between the various bodies and mutterings of turf wars and disagreements over resources.

Now we are hearing that there may at last be some light at the end of the tunnel. A proposal is being examined to streamline the system by making motorists provide licence details when they purchase or transfer ownership of a car.

This would mean that a vehicle could be linked to a driver, making the administration of the points system an awful lot easier.

On the face of it, it seems a sensible idea as it would, in theory, bring an end to wrangling and difficulties over the exchange of information between different agencies.

Hopefully it will not be too much longer before the group announces a way forward. After all, it is in everyone's interest to have safer roads.

Irish Independent

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