63% of drivers support increased fines to improve driver behaviour

Women want tougher penalties

More than 6 in 10 drivers (63%) in Ireland are in favour of the recently increased fines for road traffic offences as a means of encouraging improved driver behaviour and curbing dangerous driving practices. A new survey from Aviva Insurance Ireland DAC* (Aviva) signals widespread support for the financial penalties with 3 in 10 men and 4 in 10 women saying that the higher financial penalty, the less likely people will be to break the rules.

The nationwide survey of 1,000 adults by iReach Insights on behalf of Aviva, comes on the back of a raft of penalty increases that were introduced late last year (October 2022), which saw fines for 16 different driving offences double in some cases1. Speeding fines increased from €80 to €160, while the penalty for mobile phone use, non-wearing of seatbelts and failing to ensure that a child is properly restrained doubled from €60 to €120. Unaccompanied learner drivers now face a fine of €160, while learner novice drivers who do not display the required 'L' or 'N' plates will be forced to cough up €120.

The Aviva survey further revealed that just 28% of drivers believe Ireland’s current penalty point system is fit for purpose, while the next largest proportion of respondents (17%) think the penalties are irrelevant because people who break the rules just don’t care. The remainder (57%) would like to see changes in difference aspects of the system ranging from those who think both fines and penalty points should increase, and others who believe that enforcement is the issue.

The number of fatalities on Irish roads increased again last year with 27 more fatal collisions and 20 more deaths². In addition eighteen deaths were recorded in January alone this year which underlines that the need to curb dangerous driving practices is still very much there. But how to do this effectively with the resources and manpower available is, and always has been a challenge. What the survey really shows is the variation in opinion of road users themselves as to what the relevant legislators can do to overcome poor driving practices. The main penalty point offences continue to be speeding, holding a mobile phone while driving, failure to obey traffic lights, driving without reasonable consideration, unaccompanied learner drivers and no NCT.

Billy Shannon, Aviva

Further highlights from the Aviva survey include:

  • One quarter of people agree that fines improve behaviour on the road, but they wouldn’t like to see them increased any further
  • 18% of male respondents and 15% of female respondents are not supportive of financial penalties
  • The older generation (aged 55+) were found to be the strongest supporters of financial penalties – 44% of this age cohort believe in fines as a deterrent compared to say, 30% of those aged between 25 – 34.
  • 16% of drivers would prefer not to have the fines
  • 9% would like to see an increase in penalty points instead of increasing fines
  • 12% think both fines and penalty points should increase
  • 5% don’t think the current penalty system is tough enough
  • 13% say there’s not enough enforcement
  • More than double the number of young drivers (35% of those aged 18 – 24) as older drivers (15% of those aged 55+) believe that penalty points are a sufficient deterrent and that fines are not necessary 

Billy Shannon spoke of the gender differences in attitudes observed in the findings: “The slight discrepancy between the responses of men and women is also interesting – women tend to be in favour of harsher penalties. When you look at the stats, you see that it’s actually their male counterparts who are most likely to be impacted by these penalties. CSO figures reveal that, males incurred nearly twice as many penalty point endorsement notices as females in 20213. Of the 193,585 endorsement notices where gender was recorded, males incurred 128,690 (66%) penalty point endorsement notices while females incurred 64,895 (34%) notices.

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1. https://www.rsa.ie/docs/default-source/services/s2-licensed-drivers/rsa-penalty-points-offences-2022.pdf?sfvrsn=7ef1d693_9
2. As of 31 December 2022, there have been 151 fatal collisions, which have resulted in 157 fatalities on Irish roads. This represents 27 more fatal collisions and 20 more deaths (+15pc) compared to provisional Garda data for 2021
3. https://www.cso.ie/en/releasesandpublications/ep/p-tranom/transportomnibus2021/penaltypoints/

Aviva Group Services Ireland Limited, a private company limited by shares. Registered in Ireland No.322579. Registered Office: Cherrywood Business Park, Dublin, Ireland, D18 W2P5.