The number of drivers escaping issued penalty points is now unacceptable

The number of drivers escaping issued penalty points is now unacceptable

The number of motorists escaping driving penalty points has continued to increase by 2 per cent annually, but has now reached an unacceptable level according to the Road Safety Authority.
Over a quarter of all penalty points issued to drivers have ended up with the motorist escaping any penalisation thanks largely to cars that are registered outside the State or because drivers hold foreign driving licenses.
The Road Safety Authority (RSA) said the numbers were now a ‘real and serious difficulty’, not helped by the differing legislation between states and even between Northern Ireland and Britain, where the cost of offences can be different and where they employ a different scale of demerit points.
Figures from the RSA covering the first six months of 2009 show, 26.2 per cent of all points issued have not been applied to a drivers licence.
This is compared to the figure of 25.5 per cent of points for the last six months of 2008 and 24.17 per cent of points not being used against a licence, between January and June in 2008.
A Fine Gael transport spokesperson said that the figures show the rise in the number of motorists who are becoming ‘immune’ to penalty points is becoming a problem, one which was ‘far greater than he had believed’.
A Garda source cited the lack of available information on foreign registered vehicles as the ‘real problem’, compared to the information that can be gathered on a car that was registered within the Republic.
In a bid to slow down the rise in the number of penalty points not being assigned to a drivers licence, Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) machines have been rolled out to each Garda division. The information they gather is checked against database supplied and updated by the Irish Insurance Federation and vehicle tax authorities.
The in-car camera is able to check whether the vehicle has motor insurance or tax by scanning the registration plate. The system has successfully used in detecting forged or bogus insurance documents.   
However, it has come to light that the new technology being deployed by the Garda, which can also check whether the registered car owner is ‘of interest to gardai’, is rendered ineffective to foreign registered vehicles.

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