N-day for road safety in offences shake-up

This weekend’s radical shake-up of road traffic offences has been hailed by the Road Safety Authority as a landmark move.

From tomorrow, penalty points for speeding, holding a mobile phone while driving, and not wearing a seat belt or not using child restraints, will increase from two points to three.

Those who do not pay the fixed charge and are subsequently convicted in court risk an increase from four to five points.

An ‘N’ plate is also being introduced this weekend for novice drivers who will have to display it for two years after they get a licence.

Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe said the offences to which additional penalty points would apply were all major contributory factors to road traffic collisions.

Further increases in penalty points, for other road traffic offences, will be introduced later this year.

Novices face disqualification from driving for six months if they accumulate seven penalty points — rather than the current total of 12 for a driver with a full licence.

The seven-point limit will also apply to people who get their first learner permit. Novice drivers, like learners, will also be subjected to lower alcohol limits.

A person who is already a learner will remain on the 12-point limit while they are a learner and when they become a novice.

Meanwhile, a driver already in their first two years of a full licence, before August 1, will not be required to display a novice plate and will not be subjected to the seven-point limit.

RSA spokesman Brian Farrell described tomorrow as a landmark day for road safety. “The purpose of the graduated driver licensing system is to reduce the number of collisions, deaths and injuries among learner and novice drivers, particularly among the high-risk 17- to 24-year-olds, during the learning to drive period and the period immediately after they pass their test.

“In fact, you are three times more likely to be involved in a collision as a novice driver than an experienced one.”

Novice drivers caught speeding, using a mobile phone, or not wearing a seat belt, will face double the penalty points incurred by other motorists for such offences. N-plate drivers will also have a lower permitted blood alcohol limit — 20mg compared to 50mg for experienced drivers.

Failure to display an N-plate will attract two penalty points and a fine of up to €1,000.

Mr Farrell said the novice plate was part of a series of measures that have been rolled out to develop a graduated licensing system.

“How we train drivers has changed radically and, essentially, we are now formally training drivers to drive safely for life rather than training them to just pass a driving test.”

Latest penalty points statistics show that between January 1 and July 29, 139,089 penalty points were issued, including 104,086 for speeding and 17,912 for holding a mobile phone.

There were 3,235 penalty points issued for failing to wear a safety belt; 2,166 for failing to obey traffic lights; 1,721 for driving with no insurance; and 1,698 for using a vehicle without a NCT certificate.


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