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  • Writer's pictureSafer Highways

Road safety clampdown in Ireland to see drivers face penalty points for each offence detected

Gardaí are to target speeding motorists as part of a national “slow down day” over 24 hours, from 7am on Monday

The Government intends to increase the number of penalty points for motorists who are detected committing more than one driving offence.

Minister of State Jack Chambers, who is responsible for road safety, said the Coalition would address an “anomaly” in road traffic legislation where, if a driver commits two offences or more, only the most serious offence is subject to penalty points.

The number of deaths on the State’s roads so far this year is running some 25 per cent more than the total in the same period last year and more than 40 per cent ahead of the 2021 figure. In response to this sharp increase, Mr Chambers said motorists would in future face a cumulative sanction, receiving separate penalty points for every offence detected.

“I think it’s an important reform,” Mr Chambers told The Irish Times. “There’s a heightened level of risk when a person commits two offences, there is a much higher risk factor on that person injuring either themselves or others when driving a car. I think we need to get tougher on that.”

For example, he instanced a person detected breaking the speed limit while also using a mobile phone or not wearing a safety belt. Under the present system, points would be only be received for the most serious offence. Under the proposed change, each offence detected would incur penalty points.

Mr Chambers is to meet Minister for Justice Helen McEntee this week to discuss this and other measures that could be introduced to improve road safety and increase enforcement.

On current trends, which the Fianna Fáil TD described as shocking, there could be more than 190 road fatalities this year, the highest level since 2014. “In August alone, we had twice the number of fatalities this year compared to last year, which shows very concerning increases.”

He added: “My focus is to try to reverse the trend between now and Christmas.”

Meanwhile, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has written to the road safety group Parc (Promoting Awareness, Responsibility and Care on Our Roads) saying the increase in deaths this year was not a “blip”, and that the matter needed to be addressed.

RTÉ Radio’s This Week programme reported that Mr Varadkar told Parc he had written to Mr Chambers and Ms McEntee seeking a Cabinet subcommittee on road safety to be convened. He said he had spoken to Garda Commissioner Drew Harris about the need for greater enforcement.

“Garda numbers are down but they are still higher than they were five years ago when it seemed there was more enforcement,” he said.

Mr Chambers said priorities would be to strengthen Garda enforcement and to give additional hours to the Go Safe speed detection vans. He said the issue of communications was key and that road safety campaigns would be ramped up in the autumn.

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