This is an example of over-the-top response in my experience

Motorists face more penalty points for speeding from Friday

Novice drivers must display ‘N’ plate under new rules Drivers face increases in penalty points for certain offences from Friday. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

New drivers will have to display a special ‘N’ plate – indicating they are novices – for two years after they get a licence, under changes to the law announced today.

Minister for Transport Paschal Donohoe also announced increases in the number of penalty points attaching to certain motoring offences, including an increase to three points from two for speeding.

The changes, under the Road Traffic Act 2014, take effect from this Friday, August 1st.

“From Friday, penalty points for speeding, holding a mobile phone while driving and not wearing a seat belt or not using child restraints will increase from two points to three, provided the fixed charge is paid within the stipulated period,” Mr Donohoe said.

For those who do not pay the fixed charge and are subsequently convicted in Court, the points will increase from four to five.

“As these offences are major contributory factors to road traffic collisions, increases in these areas are being introduced first. Further increases in penalty points for other road traffic offences will be introduced before the end of the year.”

The Minister said the increases he had signed into effect would impact on a number of areas which were “very serious” and which could have fatal consequences.

“The job of making our roads safer involves a wide range of measures, and the penalty points system has proven to be an important component in this process.

“ We have seen a culture change in recent years in attitudes to drink driving and I want to see the same change in attitude where speeding, using phones while driving and wearing seat belts are concerned.”

He said the measures would help to reinforce that change.

The new category of ‘novice’ driver also comes into effect on Friday.

Those who receive a first full licence from that date will be considered as novice drivers for their first two years.

They will be required to display an N-plate during that time.

“Under the terms of the Act, Novices will face disqualification from driving for six months if they reach seven penalty points, as opposed to the current 12,” the Minister said.

The seven-point limit will also apply to people who get their first learner permit on or after August 1st.

A person who is already a learner will remain on the 12-point limit while they are a learner and when they become a novice.

A person already in their first two years of a full licence before this Friday will not be required to display an N-plate and will not be subject to the seven-point limit.

Novice drivers, like learners, will be subject to lower alcohol limits and they may not act as accompanying drivers for learners while they are novice drivers.

Mr Donohoe said these were important road safety measures that formed part of the Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) system.

He urged road users to exercise greater care on the roads.

“These new measures will put road safety at the top of people’s minds and, I hope, bring about a greater culture of compliance with our life saving rules of the roads.

“It must be remembered that the penalty points system is a preventative road safety measure. If you don’t want to get points on your licence or a fine, then don’t speed, don’t use your mobile phone while driving and always wear your seatbelt, ensuring others in the car, particularly children are wearing theirs too.”

A total of 19 people died on the State’s roads in August last year, according to official Garda figures. This compared to 12 in August 2012.

Last year saw a 17 per cent increase in road deaths to 190, after a steady decline from 279 deaths in 2008.