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Just 900 drivers banned after eight years of penalty points

NEW figures show that just 877 motorists have had their licences suspended since the penalty points system was introduced in 2002, with around 125 dangerous drivers being put off the road for related offences every year.

The scheme has been hailed as a huge success by helping reduce road deaths from 343 that year to just 240 in 2009.

Drivers who accumulate 12 points on their licence did so by breaking a variety of rules such as speeding, non-wearing of seat-belts and dangerous manoeuvres.

Anyone who registers 12 penalty points within a three year period is automatically disqualified from driving for six months.

According to Transport Minister Noel Dempsey, 188 drivers are currently banned.

The number of people put off the road is likely to increase even more this year with the nationwide roll-out of speed cameras.





Cameras

It is expected the cameras will catch out more motorists than normal garda checkpoints and officials hope that they will make drivers more conscious about speeding.

Low-level drink-driving is also likely to become a penalty points offence this year, although Mr Dempsey is struggling to introduce legislation that would allow this.

He had originally wanted to reduce the drink-driving limit from 80mg/ml to 50mg but faced strong opposition from within his own parliamentary party.

Already he has watered down the punishment from six penalty points to three.

The 240 people killed in 2009 was 39 fewer than in 2008 and set a record low for Irish roads.

Last year's figures were almost 100 down on 2007 and Ireland now ranks sixth in Europe in terms of road safety by the European Transport Safety Council. Three years ago Ireland ranked 11th.

kdoyle@herald.ie


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