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pay the penalty

Ranked - the counties where you're most likely to have received penalty points

Some counties with the worst road fatality records in Ireland incur the least penalty points in the country.

Gardai Traffic Corps

DRIVERS LIVING IN the commuter belt around Dublin are far more likely to have incurred penalty points compared with those living further afield, new figures reveal.

The statistics, covering 10 years worth of penalty points notices between 2007 and 2016, show that counties in more rural or isolated locations tend to have a lower likelihood that their residents will be on the penalty points register.

The figures, released to Sinn Féin TD Peadar Tóibín by the Road Safety Authority (RSA), indicate that commuter counties in close proximity to Dublin (though not necessarily the capital itself), have the highest amount of penalty points per head of population.

20170530_Penalty_Points_2 Statista Statista

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All told, 2,654,391 fixed charge notices were served between 2007 and 2016. The penalty points system was first introduced in Ireland in 2003.

From those figures, the five counties with the highest number of notices issued per individual licence (as at end 2015) are:

  • Kildare – 1.03
  • Kilkenny – 0.96
  • Wicklow – 0.95
  • Wexford – 0.92
  • Meath – 0.90

By contrast, the counties with the lowest number of notices issued per resident are:

  • Donegal – 0.56
  • Mayo – 0.60
  • Kerry – 0.65
  • Monaghan – 0.65

These counties are not necessarily those with the highest standards regarding accident statistics – Donegal for example, with seven deaths in 2015, had the sixth highest number of road deaths per capita in the country, with 0.07 per 1,000 population, compared with Kildare’s 0.04.

Graph 1 RSA / RSA / /

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Despite this, per the statistics drivers in Kildare are nearly twice as likely to have picked up penalty points in the last 10 years as their counterparts in the north-west Ulster county.

“The issuing of penalty points is an important tool against road fatalities and traffic accidents,” Tóibín told

“In recent years, we started to see road fatalities rise again while the impression from anecdotal evidence is that many people don’t believe that they will be caught and therefore take risks.”

From these statistics, there also appears to be a clear disconnect between the most dangerous roads and the location of the imposition of the penalty points. Logic should dictate that the policing of our roads should be more intense in the counties with the highest fatalities.

“The opposite seems to be the case. Many people complain that points seem to be issued on busy main roads where it’s easier to ‘harvest’ penalty points more so than quieter dangerous regional routes. This may be borne out by these figures.”

90388703_90388703 Peadar Tóibín Leah Farrell Leah Farrell

Dublin saw easily the highest number of notices issued in the last 10 years, with 605,924, as one might expect given its status as the country’s main population centre.

The capital ranks only eighth in the country however regarding number of penalty notices per licence.

Mayo, meanwhile, was the second worst county in the country for road fatalities in 2015, yet penalty points per licence in the Connacht county stand at just 0.6, a difference of 23 ranking places from its fatality status.

In other words, the statistics suggest that in rural Ireland, the number of penalty points issued bear little relation to the level of fatalities on that county’s roads.

An Garda Síochána was contacted for comment on these findings but a response had not been received at the time of publication.

An RSA spokesperson meanwhile told that “while the RSA provides the data on our website in relation to penalty points statistics we cannot comment on how they are interpreted as it has not been validated by our research department”, adding that the authority does “not advise linking the geographical location of where the drivers are living to enforcement activity as the two are simply not comparable and would be inaccurate to do so”.

Graph 2 RSA / RSA / /

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The RSA does detail penalty points data on its site, albeit on a cumulative level regarding the number of drivers with points endorsed on their licence at a point in time. Those statistics are available here.

Currently 610,551 drivers in the country have penalty points endorsed on their licence, with 3,712 of those having between 10 and 12 points (12 points resulting in a six-month disqualification from the roads).

Wexford, Kilkenny, and Kildare have the highest proportion of licences with points endorsed with 23%, 22.9%, and 22.7% respectively.

And the counties with the fewest? Donegal, Louth, and Mayo with just 13.9%, 16%, and 16.4%.

Donegal therefore stands as the county with both the least likelihood of having picked up penalty points, and the county with the fewest proportion of drivers who currently actually have points, despite the sixth worst road fatality record in the country.

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.

Read: ‘There’s no county without drink drivers’ – April was the worst month in five years for alcohol offences

Read: Could this personalised breathalyser be the solution to Ireland’s drink-driving woes?

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