Ireland’s road safety record has improved dramatically over the past number of years. Since 1997 road deaths have dropped by almost 60% when compared to 2013.
The penalty points system has played an important role in this by incentivising drivers to modify their behaviour and drive more safely.
The RSA is responsible for overseeing the implementation of the new Government Road Safety Strategy “Closing the Gap 2013 – 2020”.
“Closing the Gap” means making Ireland’s roads as safe as the best performing countries in the world in particular the United Kingdom, Netherlands and Sweden. In order to achieve this Ireland must reduce deaths to 124 and reduce serious injuries by at least 30% by 2020.
The penalty points system has proved to have been an effective deterrent in changing road users’ behaviour for the better over the past decade. The system needs to be continuously reviewed and updated to keep ahead of driver behaviour trends and actions. It will be extended over the course of this Strategy to cover new safety related traffic offences.
Specifically Action 85 of the Strategy requires; Review and update the penalty point system to ensure relevant sanctions are in place, amended as required and new sanctions are introduced to cover new and emerging road safety issues with particular relevance to drivers and vulnerable road users.
We believe that the penalty points system plays an important role in this by incentivising drivers to modify their behaviour and drive more safely.
Mutual recognition and driver disqualifications
Since 28 January 2010 Ireland and the UK have operated the European Convention on Driving Disqualifications. This meant that a resident of Ireland disqualified in the UK could also be disqualified in Ireland. Generally, it applied to offences such as speeding, drink/drug driving and reckless or dangerous driving; the arrangement does not apply to disqualifications because of the accumulation of penalty points. Similarly a resident of the UK disqualified in Ireland could also be disqualified in the UK. In Ireland the process is that once notification of disqualification is received by the licensing authority- The Road Safety Authority (RSA) - court proceedings are initiated in the District Court by the RSA to give effect to the disqualification here.
The application of these rules is changing. The operation of the Convention will from 1 December 2014, as part of the provisions of the Lisbon Treaty, come under the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice (ECJ). The UK is exercising its right to opt out of the ECJ jurisdiction in relation to the application of the Convention. As a result the UK is no longer party to the Convention and the arrangements under that convention allowing for mutual recognition of driving disqualifications between the Republic of Ireland and the UK will cease as and from 1 December 2014. The UK however, wishes to continue the mutual recognition of driving disqualifications arrangements with Ireland and necessary arrangements in both Ireland and the UK are being put in place to give effect to this.
In summary the impact on mutual disqualification cases is that driver disqualification cases notified to the Irish authorities before 1 December 2014, can be given effect; cases which would otherwise be notified after that date cannot be proceeded with. This also applies to cases notified to the UK authorities. The Irish and UK authorities are working to ensure that the mutual disqualifications provisions are restored as soon as possible.