Dáil debates

Wednesday, 18 October 2006


Road Traffic (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2006: Second Stage (Resumed).

7:00 pm

Paddy McHugh (Galway East, Independent)

I welcome this Private Members' Bill tabled by Deputy Olivia Mitchell on behalf of the Fine Gael Party. However, while every item of legislation is welcome to one degree or another, I believe we are weighed down with road safety legislation. We are wary of press conferences, weighty announcements and photo calls in regard to announcements on road safety. In spite of that, we do not have effective enforcement.

The public is aware of the legislation in place. People displayed that fact by their initial response to the introduction of penalty points. For example, initially there was a noticeable reduction in the speed at which people travelled, but as soon as it became apparent that the penalty points legislation was not being implemented, we reverted back to our old ways. Legislation is worthless unless it is enforced. The Garda presence on the ground was inadequate.

I am a member of the Joint Committee on Enterprise and Small Business which is currently carrying out an examination of the high cost of motor insurance. The focus the committee has put on this issue has undoubtedly led to major reductions in the cost of insurance.

As part of our investigation we met with representatives of the Allianz insurance company last week. We had a most useful exchange of views. That insurance company in particular was most helpful to the committee. The central point of its presentation to us was that improved enforcement is essential to improve road safety. I will quote from the submission it made: "With many reform initiatives under way, we have continued potential to achieve success but effective enforcement is the key." The message from tonight's debate has to be that the Ministers for Transport and Justice, Equality and Law Reform have much practical work to do.


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