Over 17,000 drivers escape penalty points

The Road Safety Authority has confirmed that 17,656 motorists convicted of driving offences have escaped penalty points because of a legal loophole.

The RSA’s Noel Brett said court clerks were not legally obliged to pass on the licence numbers of drivers convicted in court of offences that carry points.

The RSA is the body charged with applying penalty points.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Mr Brett said he hoped the new Road Safety Bill would close the loophole.

According to the Irish Independent, 18,383 drivers have been convicted of offences that require a mandatory court appearance since 2003.

However just 727 of these drivers had penalty points applied.

Pass rates for driving test vary “too” widely

Waiting times for driving tests have fallen considerably and are now close to the target time of ten weeks, according to a study by the Comptroller and Auditor General.

But the Comptroller also found that Road Safety Authority testers failed more people than outside contractors did and that pass rates varied considerably throughout Ireland.

The national average pass rate for drivers tested by RSA testers was 49% compared with a rate of 62% for contract testers.

There was considerable variation in pass rates at test centres. Average pass rates by centre varied from 39% to 60% in relation to RSA test centres and from 51% to 77% for contractor centres.

While variation between centres can arise as a result of the profile of candidates presenting for testing, it is important that the RSA validates the pass rate occurring at centres.

The RSA had not conducted such validation procedures.

New Car Sales Disappoint With Tiny Rise On Last Year

Today’s newly released statistics from the Motorcheck.ie Car Index show that new car registrations for the month of January exceeded those recorded last year by a disappointing 4.6%. This relates to 16,612 units for 2010 as compared with 15,877 in 2009.

Commenting on the slow start Motorcheck.ie Director Shane Teskey says “Given that the majority of sales occur in the first quarter, it’s a disappointing start meaning that dealers will be concerned about the total sales potential for 2010.”  

“Anecdotally we’re hearing that an inability to source finance is still a serious problem. Although an improvement in consumer confidence and a manufacturer strategy of heavily discounting new car prices has generated significant interest in the sector, the ‘finance famine’ currently being experienced by new car dealers is suffocating sales” he said. 

Revenue coffers will be bit hit with a double blow as combined with poor sales in new cars, the number of used cars being imported to Ireland dropped 47% in January 2010 against registrations recorded for January 2009. Used cars being imported to Ireland are subject to Vehicle Registration Tax (VRT) a significant part of the tax take which has been declining rapidly in recent months.

League Table

Top of the table for ‘Manufacturer’ in January is Ford with 2,641 registrations. Their Fiesta and Focus models have proven to be first and second most popular with 1,060 and 922 respectively.
Diesel continues to outsell Petrol with 59% (9,768) of new vehicles registered. 

Band B is by far the most common tax class with 43% (7,212) of all registrations.
Only 50 registrations separates Silver (4,070) from Black (4,020) as the most popular colour on Irish roads.

Shane Teskey
Director
Benchmark Fleet Services Limited

Caution urged due to icy roads

Motorists are being advised to take extra care due to frost and ice on roads around the country.

There were reports of ice, frost and snow this morning, with difficult driving conditions in parts of Leinster, Connacht and Ulster.

Temperatures dropped to -3C in some areas overnight.

Roads in Wicklow town, Cavan town and Ballinasloe in County Galway are particularly bad.

In Wicklow drivers have been told to avoid Sally Gap due to ice.

Four people have died in crashes on the country’s roads this weekend. Three people died in two separate crashes in Co Donegal. A man was killed in a single vehicle collision in Co Laois.

Elsewhere, a man died after his tractor crashed in County Down.

Toyota’s Safety Recall Campaign

Toyota has announced that is recalling eight models of its cars across Europe to solve a potential an accelerator pedal issue.

Amongst the models to be recalled are the popular Avensis, Corolla, Yaris and Auris.

The company says up to 1.8m vehicles in all may be recalled because of the possibility that in certain circumstances accelerator mechanisms may stick or only slowly return to ideal position.

A spokesperson for Toyota here has said it will be the middle of next week before they know the exact number and model of vehicles that will be recalled in Ireland.

Toyota Ireland will be operating a helpline for concerned customers who wish to make contact with the company.

The number is 01-4190222 and will be open from 9am to 5pm tomorrow and Sunday.

Nothing is more important to Toyota than doing the right thing for our customers -- and restoring their confidence in the safety of our vehicles. We deeply regret the concern that our recalls are causing for our loyal customers, and we are making an all-out effort to develop and implement effective remedies as quickly as we can.
Our highest priority is to fix the accelerator pedal problems for our existing customers. We want to reassure Toyota owners that instances of sticking pedals are rare and generally do not occur suddenly. Toyota is currently in the process of recalling vehicles to remedy the issue of pedal entrapment and we have begun sending instructions to customers about how we will fix their vehicles. Customers who have any questions or have experienced any issues with their accelerator pedals should visit Toyota.com, contact the Toyota Customer Experience Center at 1-800-331-4331, or call their local Toyota dealer.
We’ve identified the cause of the problem and are focusing all of our energy and resources on developing and thoroughly testing remedies. Our engineers have been working around the clock and we’ve been in direct communication with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) throughout this process. We also appreciate the opportunity to inform the House Committee on Energy and Commerce about our efforts to address this situation for our customers and we pledge our full cooperation with the Committee.
Toyota has taken the unprecedented step of stopping production to help serve our customers quickly and ensure that all new Toyota vehicles going forward do not experience this problem. Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America (TEMA) has also been working closely with our pedal supplier CTS on a revised design that effectively remedies the problem. These pedals are now in full production at CTS to support Toyota’s needs. At the same time, we continue to work with CTS to test effective pedal modifications for existing vehicles on the road that will be available to our customers as quickly as possible.
We appreciate the comments that Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood made today about the way Toyota has stepped up to meet our responsibilities to our customers, and we are determined to continue fulfilling our commitment to put our customers first.

New speed limits to be enforced in Dublin city

Dublin City Council will be introducing a new traffic signalling system to encourage motorists to obey the new 30km speed limit that will be enforced from next Monday.

Click here to see map of new system

Motorists keeping under 30 km/per hour could meet continuous green lights on a clear road but those travelling any faster will meet a red light according to Cllr Andrew Montague (Lab) chairman of the council’s Transport Committee.

The council will be introducing the system on selected routes like the Quays when the new 24 hour speed limit comes into force.

Cllr Montague said that congested traffic moves slower when there are stops and starts but will be slightly faster with a smoother traffic flow.

He also said the new limit will make the city centre a more attractive place for pedestrians and cyclists.

The new speed limit area will cover an area North to South from Bolton St to St Stephen’s Green and West to East from Church St to Gardiner St.

But the Automobile Association has claimed the new limit will ‘infuriate’ motorists.

AA Director of Policy Conor Faughnan responded ‘There is just no sense in this, 30 kph zones work when they are engineered properly, in traffic calmed areas where they are self policing.

He continued, That’s what they are for, applying them en masse on roads that are engineered for high volumes at flowing speeds is absurd.

He said we have problems enough countrywide trying to end the scourge of badly set speed limits without the capital city making a mockery of sensible road design.’

Drivers warned of freezing fog

Heavy fog is making driving dangerous around the country this afternoon.

AA Roadwatch says there is heavy fog in the east, midlands and west of the country.

Visibility is reduced because of the fog and drivers are asked to use their fog lights in the affected areas.

The worst affected routes are the M4 near Kilcock, the M6 between Rochfortbridge and Oranmore, and the N7 around Portlaoise.

There were also icy road conditions in many parts earlier today as a result of freezing overnight temperatures.

Motorists are warned that despite some improvement, care is still needed as ice may linger.

Meanwhile, a truck carrying chemicals overturned on the N52 Kells to Ardee Road in Co Meath. There were no injuries.

There have also been a number of crashes on the Dundalk to Castleblayney road, including a three-car accident. Motorists are advised to avoid the road if at all possible.