Fine Gael TD for Cavan/Monaghan, Joe O’Reilly, has called for a renewed focus on road safety ahead of the imminent increase in penalty points on 1st Aug.
“So far this year Cavan drivers have incurred 7,887 penalty points. The majority of drivers, over 6,000, have two points but 1,186 have 4 points and 244 motorists have 6 points on their licence.
“Penalty points impact insurance policies and in most cases they are completely avoidable. Drivers not abiding by speed limits, using mobile phones while driving or not wearing a seat belt are the most common penalty point offences and in all cases it is very easy to obey the law and avoid getting the points.
“From Friday, 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, provided the fixed charge is paid within the stipulated period. For those who do not pay the fixed charge and are subsequently convicted in Court, the points will increase from four to five.
“Not only are these the most common offences but they are the major contributors to traffic collisions. We’ve all seen the very upsetting advertisement where people are not wearing seatbelts or the extremely effective safety campaign where a young person is walking down the street with their in head in their phone.
“In 2013, road fatality figures increased for the first time in eight years. Huge inroads have been made in the promotion of road safety in recent years so it is extremely worrying that we seem to have taken a step backwards. This year’s figures don’t make for much better reading as so far as 111 people have died on our roads and that is four more than last year.
“It is clear that as a nation we have hit a stumbling block when it comes to road safety. Thankfully there has been a huge shift in attitude towards drink driving but we need a similar change when it comes to using mobile phones.
“Road fatality figures are more than just numbers; every person who loses their lives on the road has a family, has someone who will miss them. We also need to remember that collisions lead to severe injury and lifelong disabilities.
“It is important that people take driving seriously. Every time you get behind the wheel you are taking your life and the lives of others in your hands. Speed limits are there for a reason, putting on your seat belt is as important as turning on the ignition and the car is not the place to check your Facebook status.
“The job of making our roads safer involves a wide range of measures, and the penalty points system has proven to be an important component in this process.
“Also under the terms of the 2014 Act, the new category of Novice driver will come into effect from 1st August. The new measures mean that people who receive a first full licence from 1st August will be considered as Novice drivers for their first two years. Novices will be required to display an N-plate during that time. Under the terms of the Act, Novices will face disqualification from driving for six months if they reach seven penalty points, as opposed to the current twelve and Novice drivers, like learners, will be subject to lower alcohol limits.
“These new measures will put road safety at the top of people’s minds and, ensure that we all “Get the Point and not the Points!”.”