What happened to the penalty points system?

 

The penalty points system, according to which a driver can accumulate points each time he or she commits a motoring offence, leading to a driving ban, was promised over three years ago. Road safety experts agree it is one of the key ways to cut speeding. The necessary legislation, promised by the end of 1998, was introduced this year. The earliest it is expected is October 2002.

If a motorist accumulates 12 points over a three-year period they will receive an automatic driving-ban for six months.

JULY 1998: Penalty points first promised following Cabinet approval of the recommendations of the high level group on road safety. Also promised are random breath testing for alcohol and greater enforcement of speed limits. The Taoiseach, Mr Ahern, says it's important that the recommendations be implemented as soon as possible.

AUGUST 1998: Government commits itself to the first national road safety strategy.

According to "The Road To Safety", which covers 1998-2002, the fastest way to reduce road deaths is to target driver behaviour. Key measures include penalty points.

Legislation planned for later in the year, says Government.

JULY 1999: Government introduces outline of proposed penalty points system and says it will introduce legislation to allow its introduction by the end of the year. However, garda∅ have still not been provided with computer system necessary to deal with increase fines which would result from penalty points.

DECEMBER 2000: Government has yet to publish Road Traffic Bill, promised in July.

AUGUST 2000: Second progress report on "Road To Safety" launched by Minister of State for the Environment, Mr Bobby Molloy. It says key aspects have not been implemented, including penalty points and random breath testing.

Government revises down its targets to reduce speeding, following publication of 1999 figures, which show more than half of drivers exceed the 60 m.p.h. speed limit. In 1997, Government said it planned to cut numbers speeding to 20 per cent. It now aims to get numbers down to just 40 per cent.

Mr Molloy says approval has been given for preparation of Road Traffic Bill. Assistant Garda Commissioner, Mr Jim McHugh, welcomes news, calling it "long overdue". Spokesperson for the Department of the Environment says it is not possible to say when penalty points will come into force.

DECEMBER 2000: Chairman of the National Safety Council, Mr Eddie Shaw, criticises Government's lack of funding for its road safety campaign. He reveals the Council has to turn to private sources for funding and the strategy was at least two years behind schedule.

MARCH 2001: After a three-year delay Government publishes details of Road Traffic Bill, which includes increases in fines for motoring offences, penalty points. Twelve penalty points accumulated over a three-year period will mean a six-month driving ban. Introduction is forecast for October next year.