Drivers facing new penalty point offences
A SERIES of new penalty point offences will be rolled out next year as part of a major bid to curb road deaths.
Transport Minister Leo Varadkar plans to introduce 11 new offences, which include penalties for parents who refuse to strap children into car seats and a ban on illegal U-turns.
Gardai are being handed a range of new powers in a bid to clamp down on dangerous driving and other road offences.
The measures, which are included in the Road Traffic (No 2) Bill 2013, include new sanctions for learner drivers.
And gardai will also be empowered to require suspected drunk drivers to walk in a straight line in order to prove they are below the legal alcohol level.
The new measures come as it was revealed some 145 people have died on our roads so far this year.
Road Safety Chief Gay Byrne told the Herald this week that he has major concerns about what he described as the "speed bug" among drivers.
Minister Varadkar's measures, which come into force early next year, include stiffer penalties for 15 offences which include speeding, using a mobile phone while driving and the non-wearing of seat belts.
A portion of learner drivers will be obliged to display the 'N' plate and will be put off the road for 12 months if they clock up six penalty points.
This compares to a six month ban for fully licensed drivers.
There are also changes to almost 30 penalty points offences, including failure to display a 'N' or 'L' plate attracting points, and a ban on U-turns.
"Road traffic legislation needs constant improvement, and this bill will add significantly to the legislative underpinning of safety on our roads," Mr Varadkar said.
A new garda clampdown in the capital revealed earlier this week will target blackspots where speed is deemed a killer.
Mr Byrne said he was "saddened" the country was braced for its worst year for road deaths since 2004.
"Speed is our enemy and I have been saying it since I joined the Road Safety Authority," he added.