Thursday, 28 June 2007
Road Traffic Offences.
I propose to take Questions Nos. 11 and 61 together.
The roll-out of the penalty points system to the range of offences set out in the Schedules to the Road Traffic Act 2002 was commenced in October 2002 in respect of speeding offences. It was progressed further in 2003 to cover driving without insurance and non-wearing of safety belt offences and extended in 2004 in respect of the offence of careless driving.
The range of penalty point offences was significantly extended from 3 April 2006 with the addition of 31 new offences. The most recent extension was in September 2006 to bring the offence of holding a mobile phone while driving within the ambit of the system. The total number of offences to which the penalty point system now applies is 36. The focus of the roll-out of the penalty points system to date is on offences that relate primarily to the behaviour of drivers. This reflects the fact that 86% of all road deaths can be attributed to driver behaviour in its broadest sense.
The relevant support systems must be put in place to support the extension of the penalty points system and, where applicable, the fixed charge system. Discussions are held in advance with the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform and other relevant agencies regarding the timing of each scheduled roll-out of new offences to ensure the relevant interfaces are in place between the Garda Síochána and the Courts Service's information technology systems, and the administration of the national driving file. The progressive extension of the penalty points system will continue to be pursued.
We will introduce them over the lifetime of the Government in consultation with the relevant agents. I cannot give the Deputy a specific timescale at this time. The offences we have covered are aimed at driver behaviour. These are the more serious offences and were accorded priority. The remainder relate to the lighting of vehicles and to their construction, equipment and use. A small number of offences not yet commenced relate to driver licensing.