We need your help now

Support from readers like you keeps The Journal open.

You are visiting us because we have something you value. Independent, unbiased news that tells the truth. Advertising revenue goes some way to support our mission, but this year it has not been enough.

If you've seen value in our reporting, please contribute what you can, so we can continue to produce accurate and meaningful journalism. For everyone who needs it.

Data has shown a higher number of road deaths and serious injuries occur during bank holiday weekends. Alamy
Roads policing

Motorists to face higher penalty points on bank holiday weekends

A new bill will allow the number of penalty points to increase during specific periods.

THE NUMBER OF penalty points for motorists committing traffic offences are to increase on Bank Holidays under new proposed legislation.

The new Road Traffic Measures Bill 2023 will allow the number of penalty points to increase during specific times when road safety risks are higher.

Data from Ireland has shown a higher number of road deaths and serious injuries occur during bank holiday weekends, with a total of 46 fatal or serious injuries taking place over the February, June and August bank holiday weekends this year.

In the same period, over 10,000 motorists were caught speeding and 340 people were arrested for drink-driving.

Minister of State for Transport Jack Chambers will outline to fellow Ministers this week how increasing points during specific periods will likely have a positive impact on driver behaviour.

Speaking on RTÉ Radio One’s Today with Claire Byrne this morning, Chambers used Australia as an example to show how increasing penalties during specific periods has decreased the number of deaths.

“In New South Wales when this was introduced, for example, in 1997 fifty-five people died and that has fluctuated now between 18 and 34,” the minister said.

“So this has a positive effect on saving lives and what it will allow us to do is to take specific offenses over a specific period [and] increase the penalty points for over that period where there’s a higher risk,” he added.

Other proposals include a change to intoxicant testing rules whereby gardai would be mandatorily required to test for drugs at the scene of road collisions.

minister-of-state-at-the-department-of-transport-jack-chambers-arriving-for-a-cabinet-meeting-in-avondale-house-co-wicklow-the-minister-has-said-plans-to-reduce-speed-limits-on-many-of-irelands-ro Minister Jack Chambers hopes the bill will come into law before Christmas this year. Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

The Irish Times reported this morning that there has been a significant fall in the number of roadside breath-tests at garda checkpoints, with rates at the lowest since 2017.

The junior minister acknowledged that enforcement levels “aren’t what they were”, which he suggests the article from the newspaper reflected.

Currently there are 659 road policing gardaí nationwide, a spokesperson for An Garda Síochána told The Journal last month. This is the lowest number of gardaí in the unit in seven years.

Chambers told the programme that he has spoken with justice minister Helen McEntee to put forward new procedures to strengthen enforcement and visibility of road policing units.

Chambers noted that the further recruitment into the road policing unit will play a “clear role” in helping to improve the visibility of gardaí.

The spokesperson for An Garda Síochána said: “As recruitment in An Garda Síochána continues and increases capacity to replace members from Roads Policing Units who have moved on promotion and internal transfer will be facilitated.”

External measures, such as awareness campaigns, are being developed with the Road Safety Authority Chambers added.

The proposed legislation also contains measures to end an existing anomaly where motorists who are caught committing multiple offences at the same only receive penalty points for the higher offence.

Chambers said that if a motorist is caught speeding and on their mobile phone, for example, they will now receive the points for both offences.

Separate legislation is currently being prepared to implement the recommendations in the recent speed limit review, which reduces baseline speed limits on rural roads as well as national secondary roads and roads in built up and residential areas.

Over the weekend, five people died in separate incidents on Irish roads, including 21-year-old journalism student Joe Drennan who died after a hit-and-run in Limerick on Friday night.

Chambers said that “shocking trends” on Irish roads has now lead to “another five people who’ve lost their lives and the devastation that will cause to their families, friends in the wider community”.

“My focus, as minister, is to bring forward measures to try and reverse this trend and obviously have an evidence base to underpin that,” he added.

Chambers plans to bring the bill to ministers this week and hopes it can be implemented before Christmas this year.

Your Voice
Readers Comments
This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
Leave a Comment
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.

    Leave a commentcancel