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Proposed Higher Penalty Points for Speeding on Bank Holidays Dropped from New Road Traffic Bill

The latest Road Traffic Bill, set to be presented to the Cabinet, will no longer include a provision for increased penalty points for speeding on bank holiday weekends. Junior Transport Minister Jack Chambers is expected to seek Cabinet approval for the introduction of lower default speed limits in specific areas. The Speed Limit Review, published in September, recommended adjustments, such as reducing limits from 50kph to 30kph in built-up areas and from 100kph to 80kph on national secondary roads. However, the plan for heightened penalty points during bank holidays has been excluded due to the need for further legal scrutiny.

The new legislation aims to enhance road safety by targeting high-risk driving behaviours, including speeding, intoxicated driving, failure to wear seatbelts, and distracted driving. Minister Chambers, in justifying the focus on speeding, notes its significant contribution to road collisions and emphasises that reducing default speed limits can potentially prevent crashes and save lives.

While the bill allows for the application of multiple penalty points for multiple offences detected at a single stop, it will not address two existing anomalies. These involve motorists avoiding longer disqualifications by accumulating penalty points and the detention of drivers after providing a sample for drug testing and before receiving the results. Though not part of the current bill, these anomalies are slated to be addressed as the legislation progresses through the Oireachtas.

The proposed legislation also introduces mandatory drug testing at the scene of serious collisions, mirroring the existing provision for alcohol testing. This move comes in response to road safety data revealing a significant number of arrests for driving under the influence of drugs. The bill places emphasis on collaborative efforts with local authorities, devolving the power to set speed limits to each authority individually. Detailed guidance will be issued to assist local authorities in determining appropriate speed limits based on road types, allowing for flexibility in adjusting limits beyond the review’s recommendations, where deemed safe and suitable.

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