More road deaths in counties with low penalty points

Commuter belt counties more likely to have higher rates of penalty points

A Garda issues a speeding ticket  near Ashbourne, Co Meath. Photograph: Frank Miller

A Garda issues a speeding ticket near Ashbourne, Co Meath. Photograph: Frank Miller

 

Road fatalities tend to be higher in counties with a lower rate of penalty points, new analysis shows.

A regional breakdown of penalty points shows almost one in four drivers in Clare have been issued with penalty points. Other counties with high rates of points include commuter-belt areas such as Wicklow, Kildare and Meath.

By contrast, peripheral counties are more likely to lower rates of points such as Monaghan (14 per cent), Mayo (14.6 per cent) and Kerry (15.9 per cent).

Speeding is easily the most common source of penalty points for motorists and accounts for about three-quarter of all offences.

Almost one in four drivers in the country have received points. The figures outlined above show drivers in Clare are the most likely to have been issued with penalty points.

The proportion of road deaths was significantly higher for counties with low numbers of penalty points.

Under this heading alone, Wicklow has the highest proportion of drivers caught speeding, followed by Kildare and Clare. The findings suggest drivers within commuting distance of cities are more likely to be caught speeding than elsewhere.

The county with the lowest proportion of drivers with penalty points is Donegal (13.8 per cent of drivers), almost half the rate recorded in Clare.

Many may assume counties with low penalty points are more likely to have safer roads. However, the opposite is often the case.

There’s a negative correlation* between the rate of penalty points in each county and road safety in terms of road fatalities. In short, deaths tend to be higher in counties with a lower penalty point rate.

Monaghan, for example, may have one of the lowest rates of penalty points in the State, but it has had more fatal accidents than any other county (13 fatal accidents per 100,000 people). Kerry also has relatively few penalty points, but its roads are among the most dangerous (9 fatal accidents per 100,000). There is a similar pattern in Donegal.

The figures are likely to throw up a number of questions for those in charge of making our roads safer, such as whether these counties have more dangerous roads, more careless drivers or less enforcement of road traffic laws.

The Road Safety Authority says this data needs to treated with caution because penalty points relate to the address of the driver, rather than where the offence took place. For example, a driver from Clare could commit an offence in Dublin, but the points would be attributed to Co Clare.

As a result, drawing a link between road traffic enforcement and road deaths doesn't necessarily stack up. 

That said, the correlation between penalty points and road deaths (we found a negative correlation of - 0.419, significant at 0.05 level, between the rate of penalty points in each county and road deaths per county per 100,000 population) is significant, and poses further questions over what potential factors are likely to be at play here. 

 
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