More points for Irish motorists
Paschal Donohue, the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, has today (July 30, 2014) announced that a new, more stringent regime for the penalty points system will be introduced on Friday, August 1st.
"From Friday, penalty points for speeding, holding a mobile phone while driving and not wearing a seat belt or not using child restraints will increase from two points to three, provided the fixed charge is paid within the stipulated period. For those who do not pay the fixed charge and are subsequently convicted in Court, the points will increase from four to five", he said.
"As these offences are major contributory factors to road traffic collisions, increases in these areas are being introduced first. Further increases in penalty points for other road traffic offences will be introduced before the end of the year.
"The job of making our roads safer involves a wide range of measures, and the penalty points system has proven to be an important component in this process. The increases which I have signed into effect will impact on a number of areas which are very serious and can have fatal consequences. We have seen a culture change in recent years in attitudes to drink driving and I want to see the same change in attitude where speeding, using phones while driving and wearing seat belts are concerned. These measures will help to reinforce that change."
Mr Donohue also issued a reminder that Friday will see the introduction of the new Graduated Driver Licencing system (GDL), which will see newly qualified drivers required to display an N-plate in place of their old L-plates for a period of two years. While they won't be subjected to the maximum speed restriction that new drivers in Northern Ireland currently face (R-plate drivers in the North are restricted to a maximum of 45mph [72km/h]) those carrying N-plates will only be allowed to rack up a maximum of six points on their licence before receiving a ban, and they are given double points for offences such as speeding. The blood alcohol limit for an N-plate driver is also significantly lower than that for fully qualified drivers.
While the system has been introduced to try and reduce accidents and injuries amongst less experienced drivers, there has been criticism of the N-plate, with some saying that it will simply make targets of younger drivers for less patient or understanding road users and that the harsher penalty points regime for N-platers is pointless given that the system makes no provision for further education or an advanced driving course.
Had he anything more to say?
Ahead of the Bank Holiday weekend Minister Donohoe said: "I am calling on all road users to exercise greater care and caution on the roads. These new measures will put road safety at the top of people's minds and, I hope, bring about a greater culture of compliance with our life saving rules of the roads. It must be remembered that the penalty points system is a preventative road safety measure. If you don't want to get points on your licence or a fine, then don't speed, don't use your mobile phone while driving and always wear your seatbelt, ensuring others in the car, particularly children are wearing theirs too."