The Penalty Points System in Ireland - Does It Remain Effective 14 Years On?

Road traffic accidents (RTAs) are the leading cause of trauma related mortality in Ireland. The penalty points system (PPS) was introduced in Ireland in 2002 to incentivize safer driving and reduce injury. Its early effect was studied previously1 which concluded that there was a slight reduction in RTA related femoral shaft fractures (a sensitive indicator of high energy trauma) and a dramatic reduction in RTA related discharges. The authors hypothesized that over the following 14 years, the penalty points system might lose its effectiveness. Data was again collected from the same HIPE departments from six Dublin teaching hospitals and also University Hospital Waterford (to represent both an urban and a more rural population cohort respectively) examining RTA related femoral shaft fractures over an identical 6 month period (October-April). RTA related discharge data over an identical 6 month period was again acquired and analyzed from Beaumont Hospital, Dublin (identical data source to previous study). These results were compared with the identical 6 month period in 2001/02 & 2002/03 (October-April). The total number of RTA related femoral shaft fracture discharges in Dublin decreased from 16 post introduction of PPS in the 2002/03 6-month period to 7 in 2015/16 6-month period. The number remained the same in the Waterford region (n = 5). The total RTA related discharges in Beaumont Hospital, Dublin decreased from 70 post PPS introduction to 57 in the 2015/16 6-month period. This represents an incidence rate of 4.5/1000 discharges (vs 6.9 post introduction) which was a statistically significant reduction (p = 0.014). The mean length of stay for these patients reduced from 13 to 7.7 days. There were consistent reductions in head injury (major & minor), lower limb fracture and facial fracture since the introduction of the PPS. The upper limb, pelvic/acetabular and thoracic injuries remained largely unchanged. Whilst RTA related spinal and abdominal injuries decreased after the introduction of the PPS, this study shows that these injuries have unfortunately increased since the post-PPS study in 2002/03. These results further support the effectiveness of the penalty points system and at a time where road death figures are under the spotlight, endorse the efficacious strategies implemented by the road safety authority in Ireland.


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  • Accession Number: 01686437
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Oct 22 2018 3:09PM