Penalty point offences on the increase

The number of Longford drivers being awarded penalty points for road traffic offences is on the rise, newly released figures show.

The number of Longford drivers being awarded penalty points for road traffic offences is on the rise, newly released figures show.

During the first six months of this year 1,027 penalty point offences were recorded by gardai across the county, more than seven per cent above the 958 detections accounted for over the same period last year.

The figures also revealed Longford was one of just ten counties to experience an increase in penalty point offences, leading to suggestions that levels of enforcement vary considerably around the country.

Of the other counties, Leitrim (61 per cent), Roscommon (28 per cent) and Westmeath (15 per cent) encountered the highest rises with only Sligo (71 per cent) returning a higher detection rate.

In marked contrast, Cavan witnessed a 25 per cent fall off, which has also raised concerns over enforcement levels brought about by reductions in the Gardai’s Traffic Corps.

The statistics come despite recent findings appearing to indicate a steady bottoming off in road fatality rates.

Last year, the number of people killed on Irish roads dropped below 200 for the first time, a noticeable reduction from the 396 road fatalities in 2005.

Over the first nine months of this year, 123 people have been killed in road traffic accidents, three below the same period for 2011.

A recent study of penalty points systems currently in place in 21 of the EU’s 27 member states revealed the influence of such models to be meaningful but little more than a fleeting improvement.

Overall however, and domestically, the figures are expected to be greeted with mild acceptance from road safety chiefs, given that detection rates fell in 19 of the 29 regions commissioned.

Road Safety Authority (RSA) chief executive Noel Brett, only two months ago, warned motorists of the need to be maintain good driving behaviour.

It followed fears expressed by the group that road fatalities were once again on the rise given the fact June saw 25 people lose their lives on Irish roads, one of the largest monthly totals accounted for in recent times.