– A third of all drivers have never been stopped on the road
A third of all Irish drivers have never been stopped by a Garda for any reason. The data is contained in a poll of 11,000 Irish motorists carried out by the AA.
Almost 42% of all drivers have never had to show their driving licence to a Garda for any reason, and this was most likely to be true in Dublin and Leinster. Females were more likely than males to report that they had never been stopped, likely to reflect the fact that males on balance tend to be higher mileage drivers than females, although that may be changing.
More positively, a quarter of all drivers now say that they have been breathalysed (this figure was highest in Dublin at 27%). “It is shocking that over 40 per cent of drivers have never needed to produce their driving licence.” Says AA Director of Policy Conor Faughnan. “We go to so much trouble to get a licence and we are always told what an important document it is.” Nevertheless the survey does show a pattern of increasing Garda enforcement.
Nearly 17% of Irish drivers have penalty points on their record currently*. The vast majority of those have only 1 or 2 points on their licence. This would seem to indicate a penalty points system that is working effectively. Drivers who have received one warning are far more likely to moderate their behaviour. The numbers of drivers with multiple points incidents is extremely small, and the RSA reports that only 162 drivers (out of a licensed population of 2.6 million) are actually off the road at the moment with a points total exceeding 12.
Motorists who receive penalty points are often inclined to be unhappy with the circumstances. Slightly more than half of those surveyed (50.6%) felt that the circumstances in which they had been given penalty points were either somewhat unfair or very unfair. Females seem more likely to take it on the chin, so to speak, than their male counterparts. Only 41% of females, as opposed to 55.5% of males, felt that they had been given points in unfair circumstances.
The AA received nearly 400 individual comments by respondents about penalty points. Analysis shows that motorists are generally cynical about penalty points and often believe they are merely a source of revenue rather than a road safety measure. Poorly set Speed Limits appears to still remain the biggest issue for penalty points. Also complained of were Roadworks, unclear signs catching motorists out and hidden Garda check points.
“Unfairness may be in the eye of the beholder, but this is still a concern.” Says Faughnan. “We cannot have a motoring population that is too cynical about road safety enforcement and it is clear that there is a big communication challenge for the Garda and the Government in advance of the introduction of speed cameras, planned for later this year.”
* of course, this only applies to holders of Irish Driving licences. Published RSA data shows that in approximately 1/3 of all cases, penalty points cannot be applied to the licence because it is not an Irish licence or because a Driver Number is not available. This is an ongoing concern that the AA has raised with government.