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09/02/2006

Governments agree on driving disqualifications

The British and Irish Transport Ministers have today revealed their plans to cooperate on driving disqualifications.

The announcement was made after a meeting of the British and Irish Council of Transport Ministers, which was hosted by Department for Regional Development (DRD) Minister Shaun Woodward.

Mr Woodward said: "Since its establishment under the Good Friday Agreement, the British-Irish Council has provided a unique forum for discussion, co-operation and exchange of information on a wide variety of issues. It is encouraging that today's meeting on transport has produced a commitment to progress an issue of common concern."

The Transport Ministers said that they would intend to begin the cooperation on the issue of driving disqualifications as soon as possible, but realised that this would only deal with the worst cases.

The Ministers also addressed the issue of problems posed by the very large number of lesser infringements of road traffic law, and asked for feedback from their respective officials on the feasibility of tackling these, before the end of May.

This collaboration of both governments will be within the framework established by the 1998 Convention on Driving Disqualifications to be the first international cooperation.

British Road Safety Minister Dr Stephen Ladyman said: "If a UK driver is disqualified while driving in the Republic of Ireland, then he or she should not escape the consequences when they return home.

"Britain has one of the best road safety records in the world and the Government is committed to improving it further."

Environmental Minister Jeff Rooker also welcomed the joining of governments in tackling road traffic offenders. He said: "As Minister responsible for Road Safety in Northern Ireland, I welcome the arrangements being put in place. While a reduction in the numbers of those killed and seriously injured has been achieved, these arrangements and the further research work being commissioned should provide a basis for reducing those numbers even more. I'm sure all will welcome these developments."

Ministers also agreed on an important new programme of work for the Transport Group, which will focus on the area of Accessible Transport, sharing best practice and seeking opportunities to reduce the barriers that restrict travel opportunities for older people and people with disabilities.

It was also agreed that officials should actively seek to work together to Promote Sustainable Travel, and a group will be set up at BIC official level to decide which areas would be suitable for the development of a work programme.

(EF/SP)

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