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Drivers who dangerously overtake cyclists face automatic fine and penalty points from today

The new laws came into effect at midnight.

Image: Shutterstock/Dan Race

A NEW LAW which makes it an offence for motorists to dangerously overtake a cyclist has come into effect.

Since midnight, drivers caught putting cyclists at risk when overtaking them on Irish roads will be fined €120 and given three penalty points.

It follows ongoing discussions by gardaí, the Department for Transport, the Road Safety Authority, and the Attorney General to develop a legal mechanism to target drivers who put cyclists at risk when overtaking.

The introduction of the new law will be highlighted by the rollout of new signage, which will warn motorists to allow adequate space when overtaking cyclists.

The signage will urge motorists to provide for a 1m distance overtaking space in locations where the speed limit is less than 50km/h, and 1.5 metre distance overtaking space in locations where the speed limit exceeds 50 km/h.

Earlier this year, a law which would have legally required drivers to allow these proposed overtaking distances was abandoned after the Attorney General raised concerns about its enforcement.

Instead, Minister for Transport Shane Ross proposed the new law to make dangerous overtaking, specifically of a cyclist, an offence.

“Too many cyclists have frankly terrifying tales to tell of intimidatingly close passes and near misses,” the Minister said.

“And we are all sadly aware of the worrying numbers of cyclists being killed and injured on our roads, despite a downward trend in road fatalities more generally.”

The new measures were welcomed by gardaí, who hoped the increased penalties would – along with educational measures – change driver behaviour.

“Cyclists are one of the most vulnerable road user groups and tragically this year there have been nine cyclists killed on our roads, compared with eight at this point last year,” Chief Superintendent Paul Cleary said.

“Drivers must give cyclists room to cycle safely, especially when overtaking.”

Ross also announced that an appointment process would soon begin to appoint four people to the board of Transport Infrastructure Ireland. The Minister intends reserving one of the posts to an individual with cycling expertise.

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