Yesterday in Dáil Éireann, Deputy Tommy Broughan engaged in the debate on the Road Traffic (No. 2) Bill 2013 which was recently introduced by the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport.

The Bill contains three main parts: new restrictions and requirements for learner drivers and novice drivers; increases in penalty points for some offences and the creation of new categories of penalty points; and strengthened provisions about the testing of incapacitated drivers. Deputy Broughan welcomed the Bill and he acknowledged that many of the provisions were a long time coming.

The first part of the Bill contains provisions on graduated driving licensing. It states that drivers who have passed their driving test will be novice drivers for the period of two years after the issue of their licence. During this time, they will be required to drive with ‘N’ plates. The Bill also provides that learner and novice drivers will be disqualified from driving once they receive a limit of six penalty points. There are also provisions in the Bill which introduce penalty points for learner and novices who fail to display ‘L’ or ‘N’ plates and for learner drivers who are apprehended while driving unaccompanied.

In the general area of penalty points, the Bill includes increases to penalty points in some categories of offences (such as for failure to wear a seatbelt or to restrain a child with a seatbelt; driving while using a mobile phone and speeding). Penalty points for these offences will increase from two to three points for the offence on payment of a fixed charge notice and from four to five points for the offence on conviction. Eleven new categories of offences for which penalty points will apply are introduced in the Bill, including provisions on the contravention of the use of mini roundabouts and proceeding beyond maximum vehicle height or width signs. Contravention of the new offences will mean a driver receives one penalty point on payment of the fixed charge notice and three points on conviction.

Finally, the last significant part of the Bill contains strengthened provisions on the testing of incapacitated drivers following a collision. It provides that an incapacitated driver can have a sample of blood taken after a collision without his or her consent. The sample will be retained and once the driver regains consciousness he or she can then consent to the sample being tested for the presence of alcohol or drugs. Failure to consent to the testing of the sample is an offence under the Bill.

Deputy Broughan welcomed the new reforms to road traffic laws contained in the Bill. However, he noted that Minister Varadkar had indicated that he would soon be introducing further reforms to road traffic laws and this would result in the law becoming even more complex. Deputy Broughan suggested that it would be preferable if a consolidated Road Traffic Bill was brought forward by the Minister so that a road traffic code would be in place making it easier for citizens to be aware of the current law.

He welcomed the provisions on graduated driving licensing, the reforms to penalty points provisions and the strengthened position on the testing of incapacitated drivers. In his speech in Dáil Éireann, Deputy Broughan paid tribute to the work of the PARC Road Safety Group and to the Road Safety Authority in campaigning for reform of the road traffic laws. Deputy Broughan said “PARC have worked valiantly as part of the fight to reduce the number of people dying on our roads. The Road Safety Authority, particularly its departing Chief Executive, Mr. Noel Brett, has also been at the forefront of sustained outstanding work to reduce the number of road deaths to its lowest level last year of 162.” He also asked the Minister to introduce reform to the law in respect of the offence of a driver failing to stop after a collision where another person is injured or requires assistance. Deputy Broughan said “PARC has consistently called for stronger penalties to apply to drivers involved in hit and run collisions where victims have been killed or seriously injured, I again call on the Minister to introduce amendments to the law in this area and I hope he will be doing so at committee stage of this Bill.”

ENDS For more information contact Tommy Broughan at (01) 618 3557