New speed cameras to go live

Mon, Nov 15, 2010, 00:00

Donegal will have the highest number of speed camera locations in the country under the plan unveiled by An Garda Siochana and the Road Safety Authority today.

The network of privatised mobile speed enforcement cameras begins operating at midnight.

Cameras housed in clearly marked vans will periodically monitor areas identified as regular sites for speed-related traffic collisions. Forty-five mobile cameras will ultimately provide more than 6,000 hours of speed checks per month across the State.

Donegal will have 63 camera sites in 52 designated zones. Cork will have 62 camera sites in 48 zones; Meath will have 52 sites in 30 zones and Dublin will have 19 sites in 37 zones. In total, there are 750 safety camera sites and 518 zones.

Each zone may contain one or more sites. The speed cameras will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The Garda said analysis was "ongoing" and that these locations may change "over time".

Garda Commissioner Fachtna Murphy said there will be some 750 hours of monitoring this month, gradually increasing to a capacity of 6,000 hours monitoring by February. The commissioner was joined by Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern, Minister for Transport Noel Dempsey and Road Safety Authority chief executive Noel Brett as the scheme was officially launched at Dublin Castle today.

Mr Ahern said he hoped people would respond by driving more slowly and that there would be fewer people killed and injured on the roads. The Minister and Garda Commissioner Fachtna Murphy signed a five-year €65 million contract with the GoSafe consortium to provide the service last November.

“It’s a huge investment from the taxpayers’ point of view over the next five years," Mr Ahern said.

He said it was “frightening” to see how many people were killed on the roads each week and that trying to get people to reduce their speed was the “primary and principal aim” of the privately operated cameras.

Asked about the delay in rolling out the scheme, Mr Ahern said that from a policy perspective, moving such a project into the hands of the private operators was “a source of pretty significant negotiation” because of the duty of the Garda to enforce the law of the country.

It is the first time that a key element of day-to-day policing has been outsourced from the Garda.

Mr Dempsey acknowledged the work of the Garda and the Road Safety Authority in the reduction of people killed and injured on the roads.

“About 50 to 80 people died last year as a result of accidents where speed was the major factor and in some cases the sole factor.”

Mr Dempsey said he hoped the rollout of the cameras would have a “very significant” effect on the number of deaths and injuries. He hoped there would be no revenue generated from fines.

“That will mean people are actually obeying the speed limits. We’re not out there to catch anybody. We are out there just to remind them how dangerous speed is. If they break the rules, if they are caught on camera then they’ll get what they deserve.”

The Garda Commissioner said enforcement would be “cranked up” from 750 hours for the rest of this month rising to the maximum of 6,000 from February.

Mr Murphy said 396 people died on the roads in 2005.

“We cranked up and increased the numbers in the Traffic Corps. We increased our technology and our capacity, and last year 240 people were killed."

He said this was a “significant decrease” but it was not enough.

“This is about compliance with speed limits. It is about preventing excessive speeding, preventing inappropriate speeding and saving lives.”

Mr Brett said excessive and inappropriate speed was the greatest cause of death and injury every year.

“Speed at the point of impact really determines the outcome of virtually every single collision. The real way to avoid these cameras is to keep an eye on your speedometer. The idea here is that people change their behaviour.”

Mr Brett said if every motorist dropped their speed by 5 per cent, along with this initiative, it had the potential to save up to 50 lives per year. He said each road death cost the Exchequer €3 million.

Motorists caught speeding by the new cameras will be liable to penalty points and fines which will be administered by the Garda. The consortium is being paid a flat fee for the service. There is no provision for commissions or bonuses related to how many motorists are caught speeding.

The consortium, led by the Spectra company, will be directed by the Garda and overseen by gardaí at the Garda Office for Safety Camera Management.

A road collision factbook produced this year by the Road Safety Authority shows that in single-vehicle crashes, speed was cited as the main factor in 54 per cent of cases. When two vehicles were in a fatal crash, speed was deemed to be the main cause in only 15 per cent of cases, with driving on the wrong side of the road causing 52 per cent of these.

The force uses eight mobile cameras in vans, 400 hand-held speeding devices and more than 100 automatic number plate recognition cameras which are installed in Garda cars for checks that capture about 200,000 speeding motorists annually.

The Garda Commissioner said he regretted the fact that the Garda website had crashed as a result of the interest in the information about the cameras. There were about 50,000 visitors to the site this morning.

Mr Murphy said his staff was working with local government services to get the site up and running again. The information is also available at and on the Garda Facebook page.