Penalty points given to 3,700 drivers in first week

Gardaí have handed out penalty points to around 3,700 drivers during the first week of the extended system, it emerged today.

Around half of the drivers were caught for speeding. Another 42% were caught for some of the 31 new penalty-point offences introduced this month.

Minister for Transport Martin Cullen said he welcomed the enforcement blitz, which comes in advance of the high-risk Easter weekend.

“We cannot tolerate irresponsible and careless driving behaviour, which places all road users at risk and devastates families and communities. I am glad to see that the gardaí are strongly enforcing the new offences in order to get that message through,” he said.

Around 10% of the 3,658 drivers caught between April 3 and 12 were given penalty points for the non-wearing of seat belts.

Mr Cullen said enforcement was needed to cut road deaths, which he said were at an unacceptable level.

“Given that nine out of 10 collisions are caused by driver error, it is clear that the way forward is through a change in driver behaviour,” he said.

There have been 113 people killed on the roads so far this year, compared to 102 for the same period last year.

Under the forthcoming Road Safety Bill, gardaí will finally have the power to randomly breath-test motorists.

First-time drink-driving offenders under a certain blood alcohol driving level will be given the opportunity to accept a €300 fine and an automatic six-month disqualification. If they contest this, offenders will face stiffer fines and lengthier bans on conviction in the courts.

The Road Safety Bill will also make it an offence to drive while using hand-held mobile phones and allow for the installation of 300 speed cameras around the country.

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