Deputy Tommy Broughan this week called for a Topical Issues debate on the urgent need for the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport and Minister for Justice and Equality to work together to prioritise the improvement of communications and collaboration between the Road Safety Authority, the Gardaí and the Courts Service to ensure the prosecution and application of penalty points on those convicted of traffic offences and in particular those charged with dangerous driving offences.
Deputy Tommy Broughan, along with Susan Gray, representative of the PARC Road Safety Organisation, have been requesting clarification on the application of penalty points and follow-up on dangerous driving convictions for a number of months now.
In 2013 there were 20,315 prosecutions for driving without a licence and 19,968 such prosecutions in 2014. 1,286 drivers were prosecuted for driving while disqualified in 2013 and there were 1,373 prosecutions for the same offence in 2014. Prosecutions under section 29 (16) and (17) of the Road Traffic Act 2010 for disqualified drivers failing to submit a licence stand at much smaller numbers of 5 in 2014 and 1 to-date in 2015. Minister Fitzgerald informed Deputy Broughan in a reply to a Parliamentary Question on the figures that An Garda Síochána and the Road Safety are “liaising as to how improvements can be made to the exchange of information with respect to the latter category of persons with a view to streamlining the bringing of prosecutions in this regard”.
The correct recording and application of penalty points depends on the information being passed between the Gardaí, the Road Safety Authority and the Courts Services. PARC Road Safety Group have recently completed a report on observations from road traffic cases in 26 District Court sittings across the country and found that a large number of drivers summonsed to court for these offences are not getting the penalty points applied to their licence on conviction when in fact they should receive double the points. Susan Gray of PARC says “Drivers are required by law to produce their licence in order to allow for application of penalty points. When they fail to do so our report indicates that there are failures to prosecute as a result. This may have resulted in huge numbers of drivers still driving on our roads that should long ago have been disqualified. Families of victims of road traffic collisions wonder if their loved one could be alive today if action had been taken in following up on these convicted drivers. PARC wants to see these drivers prosecuted for these separate offences.”
Deputy Broughan concludes “All through my political career I have campaigned for stronger road safety laws for all road users. I feel that we have achieved a lot and improved greatly over the years but still have some way to go. This year has seen a worrying trend in an increase in fatal casualties, particularly in vulnerable road users. In order to combat this trend and prevent future needless loss of life on Irish roads we all need to work together – government departments, enforcers of road traffic laws and indeed, us as road users also.”