Thursday, 26 February 2004

Questions (46)

Gerard Murphy

Question:

44 Mr. Murphy asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he has satisfied himself with the operation of the penalty points system; and his views on the Garda delays in issuing notices under section 5 of the Road Traffic Act 2002. [6364/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform)

The main objective of the penalty points system and all Garda activity in the area of road safety is to change road user behaviour, through enforcement and surveillance, ultimately resulting in a reduction of the numbers killed and injured on our roads. While there is no room for complacency, particularly given the number of recent tragedies, provisional Garda figures for 2003 indicate a reduction of 36 in the number of road deaths.

Section 5 of the Road Traffic Act 2002 to which the Deputy has referred deals with the notification to licence holders of the endorsement of penalty points. This aspect of the system is a matter for the Minister for Transport rather than the Garda Síochána.

Nevertheless, the Deputy will appreciate that the penalty points system is currently operating on a semi manual basis. This will change later this year when the fixed charge processing system becomes operational. I think the Deputy will agree that the benefits of the considerable advances in road safety achieved in the period since the introduction of penalty points outweigh the regrettable delays resulting from the operation of the interim manual system.

I am satisfied that the role played by the Garda Síochána to date in the introduction and ongoing enforcement of the penalty points has been vital in the progress made.