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Government increases number of penalty point offences

Drivers now face penalty points for almost 50 different motoring offences due to a new crackdown on road safety.

Additional laws will see anyone convicted for not wearing a seatbelt or having an unrestrained child in their car penalised with four penalty points and a fine of up to €90.

Transport Minister Leo Varadkar announced the changes, which are due to take effect from Friday.

"Shocking as it may sound there are still motorists who permit children under three to travel without being properly restrained," said Mr Varadkar.

"Failing to wear a seatbelt or allowing a passenger to travel unrestrained is a breach of the law and you risk a fine and penalty points on your licence which will remain in place for three years."

Seven new rules have been added to the penalty point system, bringing to 48 the number of offences drivers can be charged for. 

The seven rules are as follows:                                                                   points

* Driver of car or goods vehicle not wearing safety belt

* Driver permitting person under 17 years of age to occupy a seat when not wearing safety belt

* Driver of car or goods vehicle permitting child under 3 years of age to travel in it without being restrained by appropriate child restraint

* Driver of car or goods vehicle permitting child over 3 years of age to travel in it without being restrained by appropriate child restraint

* Driver of car or goods vehicle permitting child to be restrained by rearward facing child restraint fitted to a seat protected by active frontal air-bag

* Driver of bus not wearing safety belt, and 

* Using vehicle – (a) whose weight un-laden exceeds maximum permitted weight, (b) whose weight laden exceeds maximum permitted weight, or (c)any part of which transmits to ground greater weight than maximum permitted weight.

Mr Varadkar said gardaí still report that a large number of motorists do not wear a seatbelt or allow their passengers to travel without one.

Figures released last month by the Road Safety Authority showed 23% of drivers killed and 29% of passengers killed on the roads in the first half of 2012 were not wearing seatbelts.

Garda Assistant Commissioner Gerard Phillips said being strapped in while driving or travelling as a passenger was one of the most basic forms of road safety.

"It is the simplest and most effective way to protect all occupants in any vehicle," said Mr Phillips.

"We also wish to remind all road users to take extra care on the roads this August Bank Holiday weekend. July and August are known to be high-risk periods on our roads."

He pointed out that two people were killed and six seriously injured on the roads during last August Bank Holiday.     

"Large numbers of drivers will be travelling to sometimes unfamiliar places around the country, so we are appealing to all drivers to slow down, take their time, be well rested, wear their seatbelt at all times and never ever drink and drive," he added.

Among the seven new offences, six of which focus on seatbelts, is a new category for vehicle weight.

Anyone convicted for driving a vehicle that exceeds the permitted weight will be given three penalty points and could face a fine of up to €300.

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