IRISH MEN HAVE incurred twice as many penalty points as female drivers on the country’s roads since 2007.
In that time 1.59 million penalty point notices have been issued to male drivers here, 60% of the total issued, compared with 0.74 million (28%) issued to their female counterparts.
While the difference is stark, the chasm in the figures has actually closed considerably in recent years.
In 2007 and 2008, notices issued to male drivers dwarfed female drivers by 75% to just 23%.
Last year the gap had narrowed noticeably, albeit the difference was still significant – 53% male, 31% female (105,000 notices versus 62,000). Meanwhile, more than 300,000 such notices were issued in the last ten years with no age or gender data recorded.
The figures, released to Sinn Féin TD Peadar Tóibín by the Road Safety Authority (RSA), indicate a consistent disparity between the number of points incurred by male and female drivers on Irish roads over the ten-year period 2007-2016.
Nor can they be dismissed as merely indicative of the split between male and female drivers on Irish roads – at present 53% of licenced drivers in Ireland are male, compared with 47% female (1.5 million versus 1.3 million people).
For both genders, the likelihood of a driver having been issued a penalty points notice varies widely across the country – with Kildare having the highest rate of points in both cases, and Donegal and Mayo easily the least. This is in line with similar figures revealed in TheJournal.ie yesterday.
Young drivers, traditionally seen as those who are likely to drive more recklessly, are also absolved of blame somewhat by the RSA’s numbers – in the ten-year period covered the most culpable age group on Irish roads was those aged between 30 and 40, with 24% of all notices issued to that cohort (to an extent this makes intuitive sense, as there are less drivers in the lower age group).
Those aged between 20 and 30 are the second most likely to have received a penalty points notice since 2007. Drivers aged greater than 60, or under 20, account for the least number of notices.
There is little significant difference between the age groups split by gender aside from one – a greater proportion of female drivers aged between 30 and 40 have been issued with fixed charge notices since 2007 – 29.7% versus 25.9%.
“The figures indicate that there is an ongoing problem with regards male drivers and those between the ages of 30 and 40 years old,” Tóibín told TheJournal.ie.
Behavioural patterns among these cohorts needs to be challenged through advertising, policing and education.
The concrete reasons behind the historical disparity are not immediately apparent. When queried regarding the gender split, an RSA spokesperson told TheJournal.ie:
“In relation to the male versus female issue – in general we see that males are more likely to feature in crashes and when it comes to committing road traffic offences than women.”
The authority suggested meanwhile that the 300,000 notices where no age or gender is noted “would typically refer to out-of-state drivers”.
An Garda Síochána was contacted for comment on these findings but a response had not been received at the time of publication.
Separate to the gender-split issue is the fact that the number of notices being issued annually have dropped dramatically since 2007.
198,844 notices were issued in 2016 compared with the 332,358 issued in 2007 – a massive drop of 42% (the penalty points system itself was first introduced in 2003).
No explanation was forthcoming for this drop from either the RSA or An Garda Síochána. While diminishing resources may have been a factor in and around 2010 as Ireland’s austerity regime took hold, the same explanation doesn’t necessarily hold water in 2016.
In contrast to last year’s figures, 250,000 notices were issued in 2015.
Tóibín described this fall in the number of notices issued as being of “serious concern”.
“It’s clear that the issuing of penalty points has fallen considerably in the aftermath of the financial crisis,” he said.
This, along with the clear disconnect between the location of Ireland’s most dangerous roads and the location of the imposition of the penalty points, is of serious concern given we have in recent years started to see road fatalities on the rise once more.
Last year, there were 175 fatal collisions on Irish roads. To date in 2017 63 people have been killed in road collisions in the State, a reduction of 13 on this time last year.
Drink driving instances meanwhile have been rapidly on the rise. 905 such DUI (Driving Under the Influence) incidents were recorded in April marking it as the worst month for drink-related arrests in five years.
In line with the number of notices issued to men in recent times is the gender of those involved in fatal collisions where alcohol was a factor – 87% of whom were male in the years 2013 and 2014, according to statistics released by the RSA at its recent international conference in Dublin Castle.
There are 62 road offences which merit penalty points in Ireland at present, with one point applied for minor infractions moving up to three points for more serious offences.
A driver who receives 12 points in under three years receives an automatic six-month ban from driving.