OUR VIEW

Bray People - - NEWS -

WITH 180 lives lost on Ir­ish roads so far this year, the in­tro­duc­tion of strict new changes to the penalty points sys­tem this week must be wel­comed.

This Christ­mas, 180 ad­di­tional fam­i­lies the length and breath of the coun­try will be griev­ing the loss of a loved in tragic road ac­ci­dents, so it’s only right that the gov­ern­ment does all in its power to im­prove road safety be­fore any more lives are lost.

On Mon­day, a range of even more strin­gent penalty point of­fences were added to the al­ready ex­ten­sive list, while Trans­port Min­is­ter Paschal Dono­hoe con­firmed that sev­eral ex­ist­ing of­fences will now at­tract even higher points.

Learner per­mit hold­ers who fail to dis­play the ap­pro­pri­ate plates, for ex­am­ple, now face higher penalty points un­der the new rules and will now also be hit with one penalty point if they are found to be driv­ing their ve­hi­cles with­out the su­per­vi­sion of a qual­i­fied driver. Other new of­fences now in­clude break­ing a ban on U-turns; dis­obey­ing traf­fic con­trol signs; break­ing rules on the use of mini round­abouts and a num­ber of of­fences re­lat­ing to the size and weight of larger ve­hi­cles.

Mean­while, points are set to in­crease for any­one seen to be over­tak­ing dan­ger­ously, break­ing traf­fic lights, speed­ing, driv­ing across the road’s mid­dle line or fail­ing to stop at a stop sign, to name but a few.

For years, peo­ple have been tak­ing un­nec­es­sary risks with re­gard to speed­ing, not wear­ing their seat belt and par­tic­u­larly driv­ing on a provisional li­cence with ab­so­lutely no ex­pe­ri­ence. They did so be­cause there was no de­ter­rent - or at least not one se­ri­ous enough to force them to change their ways. The in­tro­duc­tion of the penalty sys­tem changed that. It made peo­ple think twice be­fore over­tak­ing when they know it’s risky or speed­ing when they’re late for work or cruis­ing along the mo­tor­way.

If the threat of two, three or pos­si­bly more penalty points means peo­ple will slow down or in­sist on hav­ing a qual­i­fied driver with them, then it’s a win-win sit­u­a­tion for ev­ery­one - and the more strin­gent the penal­ties the bet­ter. How­ever, it’s im­por­tant too that the gov­ern­ment en­sures that road safety is al­ways at the core of their ap­proach to the penalty points sys­tem and not merely ac­cu­mu­lat­ing ex­tra rev­enue.

For ex­am­ple, the new rules in­tro­duced on Mon­day will also see those who drive with­out an NCT or who are found to have parked dan­ger­ously re­ceive three penalty points. Any­one caught us­ing a ve­hi­cle with­out an au­tho­ri­sa­tion plate or with a mod­i­fied or al­tered au­tho­ri­sa­tion plate will also re­ceive three points, which will climb to five if con­victed in court.

While the above trans­gres­sions are im­por­tant, surely they should be looked upon as mis­de­meanours and pun­ished as such.

Where’s the fair­ness in im­pos­ing three penalty points on some­one who breaks the speed limit and puts lives at risk and hand­ing out the same pun­ish­ment to some­one with a fancy num­ber plate.

Common sense has to ap­ply be­cause the pri­or­ity here is sav­ing lives, not mak­ing money.

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