Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Cullen to produce a new Road Safety Plan sometime

This is another week where the number of deaths of young people on Irish roads has got a lot of media attention and there will inevitably be another week because necessary action will not be taken.

The accident-prone Minister for Transport Martin Cullen has said that the Government wanted to completely overhaul the licensing system because of the large number of young drivers involved in fatal crashes. Has the penny finally dropped?

"It shouldn't be cheap to get a licence, it shouldn't be easy," he said. "There will have to be an element of professional training in it, and the response seems to be if people have to invest more into getting a licence they will treat it with far more respect and greater responsibility."

Cullen has to cobble together some proposals and as with so with many laws, people will just give a shrug of the shoulders unless the penalties really hurt.

Last summer Garda Commissioner Noel Conroy warned people not to drink and drive but the alcohol limit remains unaltered. So most drivers will continue to drink and drive and the minority who will chance one more drink, will continue unabashed.

In rural areas, it is quite an adjustment to accept a situation where even one drink would put a driver over the limit.

We love sprawl in Ireland but there has to be a trade-off.

The Irish Independent has reported that board of the Road Safety Authority has drawn up the range of new measures aimed at slashing the death toll among young drivers. They are certain to include:

  • Learner drivers and those just qualified will be automatically banned from driving if they get six penalty points instead of the normal 12 points. Drivers who pass the test face the six point ban for a further two years.
  • L-drivers will not be permitted to drive above a certain fixed speed, expected to be 80kph. This means they cannot drive at higher permitted speeds such as 100kph on main roads and 120kph on motorways.
  • They will be restricted to low engine size vehicles for a set period. The size has yet to be determined but it is expected L-drivers and new full licence holders will not be able to drive high-powered two-litre cars and will be restricted to entry grade 1000 to 1400 cc.
  • They will have to put 'R' plates on the front and rear of their cars.
  • They will have a zero drink-driving limit.
If measures do not include a zero drink-driving limit on every driver old and new, and confiscation of the vehicle, then it will be just another failed effort.

Migrant workers are unlikely to be too fazed about the risk of disqualification.