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Penalty points for mobile phone use could be increased, Ross says

The Transport Minister said he is also looking at the practicalities of additional tests for older drivers.

Transport Minister Shane Ross.
Transport Minister Shane Ross.
Image: Sam Boal

TRANSPORT MINISTER SHANE Ross has said he is open to increasing penalty points for some offences if it saves lives.

He told TheJournal.ie that his department is reviewing new laws in the UK to see if possible changes can be made to the Irish system.

New laws come into force at the beginning of March in the UK which will see drivers caught using their mobile phone while at the wheel getting double penalty points and a double fine.

Ross said his department would monitor the UK laws “to see how they’re going, and we will change them if necessary”.

“I have no problem in increasing penalty points if I thought it was necessary. It’s because there is human life involved,” he said.

When it came to handing out penalties, he said, road safety infringements were “a bit different from going around stealing things – it’s killing people”.

Anything that is sensible we will consider it.

Currently, a driver caught holding a phone while driving will be hit with a fine of three penalty points – rising to five if the penalty is unsuccessfully challenged in court. Fines range from €60 to €90.

Last year, according to gardaí, an average of 76 people were detected for mobile phone offences every day.

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Re-test

The Minister also said he was open to new initiatives to improve people’s driving – and wouldn’t rule out a requirement for elderly drivers to re-sit their test.

“People’s driving does deteriorate,” the Independent Alliance TD said.

I think we should all probably submit ourselves to retesting and I am going to look at that.
You have to be conscious of the fact that some people did their test at 17 and they are now happily driving at the age of 70 and they haven’t had to get any kind of refresher at all when the roads have changed, the signposts have changed, the rules have changed and there is absolutely no way of checking up whether they are fit for driving anymore.
I think it is a really good idea. I have to look at the practicalities for it.

Read: Shane Ross to seek a free vote on new drink-driving law >

Read: The contenders for the Fine Gael leadership, ranked from most to least likely >

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