Speeding drivers to face higher penalties
DRIVERS face tougher penalties for speeding and using a mobile phone behind the wheel.
A Department of Transport report has proposed a graduated system, meaning motorists would incur more penalty points depending by how much they exceed the speed limit.
Transport Minister Leo Varadkar wants to change the system significantly to improve driver behaviour.
The number of points incurred for using a mobile phone would go from two to four, and from two to six for not wearing a seatbelt.
Drivers would also be penalised for choosing to challenge the censure in court. If they lost, they would be given 10 points for not wearing a seatbelt and as much as five points for using a mobile phone.
The report also recommended additional offences such as two penalty points for using a motorbike without a helmet.
Failing to obey a traffic light and overtaking in a dangerous manner would lead to three penalty points, up from two.
New powers are proposed for gardai to impound and sell uninsured vehicles.
Mr Varadkar said: "The penalty point system has operated successfully because it streamlined the approach to fixed charge penalties and provided drivers with the option of avoiding a court appearance.
"It also reduced the amount of time that gardai were required to attend court.
"It is one of the reasons for the dramatic fall in road deaths over the past 10 years."
Any changes will be incorporated into the Road Traffic Bill 2012.
The report looked at 10 other countries, most of which have a stricter regimes than Ireland's.
It pointed out the major causes of single vehicles accidents are speed, drink or drug driving and dozing off at the wheel.
In addition, most fatal head-on crashes are caused by speeding, dangerous overtaking and failing to obey stop signs.
The comparison with 10 other jurisdictions is "particularly relevant given plans to introduce mutual recognition of penalty points between Ireland and Northern Ireland", the department stated.