Penalty points for using a mobile phone while driving will shortly rise from two to three after the Oireachtas enacted the latest Road Traffic Bill in the Seanad this week, Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport Leo Varadkar has said.
The Road Traffic No.2 Act 2013 improves safety levels on Irish roads by enacting roadside impairment tests for drug driving; higher penalty points for speeding, mobile phone use and not wearing seatbelts; and allows unconscious drivers to be tested.
“This Act focuses predominantly on the human factors in road safety by strengthening and extending the law in key areas. This includes a new category of Novice driving licenses, higher penalty points in key areas, and the testing of unconscious drivers for intoxication,” Minister Varadkar said.
“The law on hit-and-run incidents has been tightened, and we have brought in a new offence of tampering with an odometer, commonly known as ‘clocking’ a vehicle. Gardaí will be able to conduct roadside impairment tests for drug driving on motorists.
“Once again I want to appeal to motorists to drive safely at all times. Road deaths rose last year, and although ten fewer people have died so far this year, we can never let up on road safety. Every road user has a responsibility to behave safely, whether you are a driver, motorcyclist, cyclist or pedestrian. I am asking everyone to take care, and to slow down.”
The Bill was drafted following consultation with the Oireachtas Transport Committee, in particular the changes to the penalty points system. Several Deputies helped to improve the Bill, including Timmy Dooley TD for his work on hit & run incidents; Helen McEntee TD for suggesting a limit of seven penalty points rather than six for learner and novice drivers, so as not to be too punitive on new drivers; Anthony Lawlor TD for his amendment on odometers; and Pat Deering TD for his work on road trains.