Motorists to get penalty points for driving too close to cyclists

Minister says he will introduce legislation to enforce minimum passing distances of up to 1.5 metres

Archive Feb 2017: A campaign is in motion to pursue the adoption of a law that requires motorists to give cyclists 1.5 metres clearance when passing from the rear. How likely is it to happen?


The Government is to introduce legislation to make motorists keep a distance of between 1 metre and 1.5 meters when passing cyclists.

Breaches of the new rules will attract three penalty points and an €80 fine, Minister for Transport Shane Ross said.

A report carried out by the Road Safety Authority (RSA)found there was “limited empirical evidence to support the implementation of minimum passing distance legislation”.

It proposed the introduction of an education and awareness campaign.

However, Mr Ross said he wanted to go the extra mile to protect cyclists.

He said there was an appallingly high death toll among cyclists in 2017 and they had as much a right to protection as any other class of road user.

He also said he also wanted to encourage more cyclists and fewer cars on the road.

The Minister said he would introduce secondary legislation to put in place minimum passing distances for motorists overtaking cyclists.

Under the new legislation there will be a minimum passing distance of 1 metre on roads with a speed limit of up to 50km/h and 1.5 metres on all other roads.

He said the new legislation would be reviewed after 12 months.

“I have been extremely concerned about the rise in cyclist fatalities on our roads. In 2017 there were 15 cyclists killed, which was a 50 per cent increase in 2016.”

“Clearly this is an intolerable situation which has to change.”

Mr Ross said every life lost on the country’s roads was a tragedy and, as Minister for Transport, he was committed to doing everything within his power to end preventable road deaths.

He said while the RSA report did not come up with sufficient empirical evidence to make a compelling case for minimum passing legislation it very much came down on the side of having a culture of safety.

“It is absolutely imperative from the point of view of this department and me as Minister that that culture of safety is promoted in every possible way.”

He said the RSA had recommended that the safety benefits associated with motorists observing safe passing distances justified the introduction of an education campaign. He said such a campaign would start in the coming days.

However, he said, “as a legislator it is not enough for me to say that simply that we have an education. My job is to introduce law and to make law.

“We decided we are going to go the extra mile in pursuit of saving lives. “

He said the legislation would link well with policy to encourage cyclists onto the road.

“We need more cyclists. We need less cars. If we make the roads a safer place for cyclists,there are likely to be more people getting out of their cars.”