Higher earners could soon face heavier speeding fines

The Garda Representative Association has come out against the new system under consideration at the RSA

The Garda Representative Association has come out against proposals to hand heavier speeding fines to higher earners.

According to the Irish Independent the new system is being seriously considered by the Road Safety Authority (RSA).

It said the proposal – which would see a driver earning €50,000 paying a fine as high as €1,000 – has the full support of RSA Chief Executive Moyagh Murdock and will be sent to the Transport Minister as soon as possible.

Speaking at the Garda Representative Association (GRA) annual conference this morning, the association's general secretary Pat Ennis said the proposal was not the way to improve road safety:

"I think it would be extremely unhealthy in a democracy to incentivise the prosecution of people in any context," he said. "I would be vehemently opposed to it; I think it would be very unhealthy."

Speed is a major contributor to deaths on Irish roads – and more than a fifth of Irish motorists admitted to a recent AA survey that they had broken the speed limit in the past month.

Adequate enforcement

On The Pat Kenny Show this morning, Conor Faughnan, Director of Consumer Affairs for AA Ireland said that while he has nothing against the proposals, the priority should be to ensure the current penalty points system is adequately enforced.

“It certainly has a sense of logic when you look at it,” he said. “However I think our priority has to be to enforce the laws we have got; our Achilles heel is when it comes to enforcement.”

“I do get a little bit disheartened if you like in that every time that road safety statistics seem to be going backward the solution – the eye catching solution – seems to be to change the law.”

He said the penalty points system is “very fair and actively does work as a deterrent.”

“I mean we have got very good information to indicate that once an individual gets penalty points once, they become statistically less likely to get them again.”

“In other words there is good evidence that the penalty points system actually works as a yellow card mechanism if you like.”

UK approach

An income-based speeding fine system is being rolled out across the UK this week and the RSA will be examining its success over the coming months.

The system will see motorists caught speeding over certain levels fined 150% of their weekly salary.

Under Ireland’s current system, speeding drivers in Ireland face a fine of €80 and three penalty points.

More serious speeding offences can land drivers in court.

In 2015 there were 166 fatalities on Irish roads.