Drivers face four penalty points for using mobile
MOTORISTS who use mobile phones while driving are likely to be hit with four penalty points after a top-level committee backed the proposal.
The Joint Oireachtas Committee on Transport and Communications has outlined its recommendations on penalty point increases in a letter to Transport Minister Leo Varadkar.
The Minister had asked the committee to consider proposals on penalty points, following the publication of a report from his Department in June.
As part of its deliberations, the committee met representatives of the Automobile Association, the Road Safety Authority and the Irish Insurance Federation.
Fine Gael Deputy Tom Hayes, who chairs the committee, said: "It emerged from our discussions that the use of mobile phones is viewed as particularly dangerous by road users and, accordingly, the committee supports the recommended four penalty points for the offence."
In relation to speeding, he said: "The committee took the view that the increase in penalty points for speeding was appropriate but considered that it was best not to have graduated penalty points based on speeds in excess of the speed limit until the speed limits had been reviewed.
"For instance, it appears that there is a default speed limit of 80kph on many narrow, winding rural roads, which is often totally inappropriate."
He said that the committee also believed that, in the case of less serious speeding offences, consideration might be given to lowering the life of the points to two years.
Points for speeding are suggested to go from two to three under the proposals.
Deputy Hayes said: "The members of the committee also agreed that the single most important factor in ensuring continued driver vigilance was visible garda enforcement.
"Furthermore, there was agreement with the recommendation that penalty points north and south of the border should be aligned."
He said that the ultimate goal was to ensure that any proposed changes bolster the fairness of the system, ensuring that each penalty is proportionate to the gravity of the offence.
He sent a letter to Minister Varadkar yesterday outlining the committee's recommendations.
Any changes to the penalty points system will be incorporated into the Road Traffic Bill 2012.