Penalty points loophole may finally be closed

GB based motorhome owners who travel to the Republic of Ireland should be aware of changes planned for the next few years. The Irish Transport Minister, Leo Varadkar, wants to increase penalty points for driving without wearing a seat belt and driving while using a mobile device.

The measures will be outlined in the new Road Traffic Bill 2012 and will take effect next year. In another move, from 2015 drivers in Northern Ireland and the Republic will no longer be able to avoid penalty points in each other’s jurisdiction. Both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland’s transport ministers want to close the loophole of points picked up in the Republic not counting once a driver crosses the border and vice versa. To start with, the rules will only affect Northern Ireland but talks are already underway to include the whole of the UK by 2016.

Figures show that around 650 drivers each week are having points put on their licence in the Republic of Ireland, and GB based mobile home owners currently account for 5% of this number. A recent survey showed that mobile home owners crossing the Irish Sea will quite happily break the rules of the road because any points are not recognised in Great Britain. A further 18% of mobile home owners do not even inform their motorhome insurance firm of the points because they class them as free points. However, insurance experts are warning against this because it may lead to the policy being invalidated if and when a claim is made.

The clampdown in the Republic of Ireland comes as the latest Road Safety Authority figures show that 23% of drivers and 29% of passengers killed in the first six months of this year were not wearing seat belts. The republic is also seeing a massive increase in accidents caused by drivers using a mobile phone and the Minister wants to put an end to the number of people who think it’s entirely appropriate to send text messages or answer the phone while driving. The number of traffic offences attracting penalty points in the Republic of Ireland will also be increased to 48 from next week with all but one of the new offences concerning the use of seat belts. The Republic of Ireland is looking forward to a time when it won’t be possible to escape penalty points simply by crossing the border.

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