Full Garda number-plate recognition may take until late 2019

Technology to detect uninsured drivers on Irish roads not widespread for two-plus years

Garda number-plate recognition: first phase would involve insurers providing insured and uninsured vehicle lists to An Garda Síochána based on an existing database. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Garda number-plate recognition: first phase would involve insurers providing insured and uninsured vehicle lists to An Garda Síochána based on an existing database. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

 

Insurance industry members have been told that the full rollout of automatic number-plate recognition to detect uninsured drivers might not be completed until the end of 2019.

This emerges in a document drawn up by the Motor Insurers’ Bureau of Ireland (MIBI), which was circulated last week to insurance industry players.

Representatives of the MIBI are due to meet Minister for Transport Shane Ross, Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald and officials from their respective departments on Thursday, along with a delegation from Insurance Ireland.

The implementation of full number-plate recognition was one of the key recommendations from the Cost of Insurance Working Group, which was established by the Government last year to identify measures that might reduce the cost of motor insurance.

“In relation to uninsured driving, the working group recommends that a fully functioning insurance database, to allow An Garda Síochána to check insurance compliance through the use of technology such as automatic number plate recognition, be finalised,” said the report, which was published in January 2017. “Much work has already been done in this area, however it is important that the rollout of such a database is expedited.”

Implementation of automatic number-plate recognition will happen in four phases, with MIBI drawing up two timelines for implementation – one with “zero delays” and the other termed a “realistic delivery” model.

The first phase would involve insurers providing insured and uninsured vehicle lists to An Garda Síochána based on an existing database.

This will contain limited information in the initial stages, with MIBI suggesting that it could be delivered between September of this year and March 2018.

Insurance file

Delivery of this information is based on the validation of data in the existing insurance database and successful testing with the Garda. It is also dependent on the Department of Transport providing vehicle data on a daily basis to compare against the insurance file to identify uninsured vehicles.

Phase two would involve fresh data for private motor vehicles – cars, motorbikes, camper vans, classic cars and driving school vehicles – being added to the insurance database. This involves collecting driver licence numbers, and insurers and brokers upgrading their IT systems to capture these details. MIBI expects this to be delivered between April and December 2019.

The third phase involves capturing data for fleets and commercial motor vehicles – taxis, vans, coaches and buses and agri-equipment – with June 2019 set as the “realistic” target.

The final leg would involve gardaí being provided with insured and uninsured vehicle lists based on the new insurance database. This would be loaded into the Garda system, which will be available in suitably equipped Garda vehicles.

The data would also be delivered to gardaí operating remotely using a secure internet-enabled app.

The MIBI documents said that implementation of this phase had yet to be confirmed as it was dependent on the completion of phase two.

While MIBI is “confident” of delivering on the elements within its control, the successful implementation of the project depended on the support and approval of other stakeholders.

It considers the “zero delay” timeline to be “aspirational” with the “realistic delivery” model representing a “more pragmatic” timeframe.

The cost of implementing automatic number plate recognition has not been revealed but it is understood that the insurance industry will pick up the tab.