Motorists from Co Leitrim have been slammed for bad driving over the first six months of 2012 with the number of people recording penalty points rising by over 61 percent on figures for 2011.
The statistics released by gardai last week, show that in the period from January to June 2011, 574 motorists driving cars with a registered address in Co Leitrim were detected for penalty point offences. However, for the same period this year the figure for Co Leitrim registered motorists recording points had risen to 925.
This dramatic increase was the second highest in the country with only Sligo registered motorists seeing a bigger rise with a 71 percent increase on figures between 2011 and 2012. Neighbouring county, Roscommon, also showed a significant increase with a rise of 28 percent while Co Westmeath was the next highest with an increase of 15 percent on the same period in 2011.
Following the release of the figures, Road Safety Authority Chief Executive, Noel Brett, has expressed concern that the rise in the number of offences shows that drivers are slipping back into bad habits. There are also concerns that there are insufficient gardai numbers to fully enforce the growing number of penalty point offences.
While nationally figures showed that penalty point offences detected in the first half of 2012 had dropped by 8 percent on 2011 figures, it is clear that this trend is not being reflected by Co Leitrim motorists.
With Irish Road Safety Week running from October 8 to 14, the RSA is asking people around the country to get involved in the fifth annual ‘National Drive to Save Lives’ on Irish roads. Road Safety Authority Chairperson, Gay Byrne has been vocal over the need to maintain Garda Traffic Corp numbers if the Government is to adequately tackle motoring offences and also reduce the number of road deaths. Speed is thought to be a significant contributor in many crashes and many road safety groups are stressing the need for further investment in policing rather than continuing to reduce garda numbers and budgets.
Figures show that (as of Friday, September 14), 123 people have been killed on Irish roads. While this is a reduction of five road deaths on the same period last year, half of all road users killed (49.6%) were drivers and of these, over one third were aged between 16 and 25. One in four road users killed so far this year were aged 66 or older.
Speaking about ‘Irish Road Safety Week’ Minister Varadkar said: “We all play a role in keeping our roads safe. As we approach ‘Irish Road Safety Week’, I would like to thank everyone for helping to reduce deaths and injuries on the roads. This week gives everyone an opportunity to make the roads safer, save more lives, and make Ireland one of the safest countries in the world. I would encourage everyone to get involved in the road safety activities taking place in their county.”
Noel Brett, Chief Executive of the Road Safety Authority said: “Although road deaths are marginally lower now than they were this time last year, over the past few months, we have seen some terrible tragedies on our roads. These tragedies remind us all of how precious life is and how quickly it can be taken away from us.