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Road Traffic Offences.

Dáil Éireann Debate, Thursday - 6 December 2007

Thursday, 6 December 2007

Ceisteanna (14, 15)

Michael Creed

Ceist:

11 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Transport the progress to date in the implementation of penalty points to those who hold non-Irish driving licences; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32890/07]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

34 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Transport the steps he will take to attach penalty points to persons holding a licence other than an Irish driving licence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28597/07]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí ó Béal (12 píosaí cainte) (Ceist ar Minister for Transport)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 11 and 34 together.

I am conscious that enforcing penalties for road traffic offences on foreign registered drivers raises many legal, organisational and procedural issues, which make it very difficult for any one State to enforce such penalties. For that reason, my Department is pursuing this question at European, British-Irish and North-South levels where mutual recognition and cross-border enforcement possibilities are under consideration. Work is ongoing.

All drivers are subject to road traffic law and it is a matter for the Garda Síochána to enforce the law. As foreign licence holders do not have an Irish driving licence record, penalty points incurred in this State are recorded against that person on a separate record in the national driver file. Under the Road Safety Authority Act 2006 (Conferral of Functions) Order 2006, SI 477 of 2006, the Road Safety Authority has responsibility for ensuring penalty points are endorsed on a licence record. Data on penalty points is held on the national driver file.

This is one of the most serious scandals in the country. Some 100,000 drivers, mainly from the North and the UK, are not subject to penalty points. When I drive to Dublin on the M1 every day, cars from Northern Ireland drive at unbelievable speeds. They are taking over the roads with impunity. What is the Minister doing about it? I am not satisfied he is doing enough. The Automobile Association recommended the Minister take driving licences from people not from the State and create a parallel account of their driving in the State. It is unacceptable and leads to many crashes.

Approximately 15% of cars from out of the State have no insurance compared to an average of 6% of Southern cars. They cause mayhem on our roads and the Minister is not acting quickly enough on this. I have attended the British-Irish Interparliamentary Union, which published a brief report on it last week. It is not good enough. We must deal with it. It is putting lives in danger. Most Northern drivers I see on our roads could not care less when they drive in this jurisdiction.

In my experience when I was Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government people in Northern Ireland say the same about drivers from the Republic driving in the North.

It is not only Northern drivers coming South but Southern drivers going North.

I am concerned about trapping them here.

Northern Ireland has the lead role for transport matters in the British Irish Council, BIC, and the authorities in that jurisdiction are taking the lead in considering this issue. I have been trying to arrange to meet my counterpart in the UK. Deputy Broughan seems to know him, so he might put in a good word for me to meet the UK transport minister in January to try to move on mutual recognition of disqualifications.

The Minister has recently inherited the national driver file. Is there a system whereby all foreign drivers will be on it? How will electronic tolling operate for Northern drivers?

When somebody is convicted we have a file created on the national driver file and that person's name, conviction and penalty points are entered in it.

Could we have all the 100,000 people who drive here regularly on the file?

That is the AA's proposal.

This proposal is similar to that of the AA. I saw the article by the AA and it was sent to us as a statement for strategy. I have asked my Department staff in Shannon to examine that to see how we can improve the data and information. I would be grateful for any suggestions anybody comes up with on this. When people come in with a licence they do not have to record it here, neither do we have to have ours recorded when we go to the UK, or anywhere else.

Written Answers follow Adjournment Debate.

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