Smart cameras at traffic lights and phone use detection technology part of new road safety strategy

Additional €3m to be made available for Road Safety Authority under new initiative as 63 people killed so far in 2024

A Garda road closure close to the scene near Aclint Bridge in Ardee, Co Louth, after three women were killed and two men seriously injured in a road accident involving three cars. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday July 21, 2017. Gardai said one woman, aged 39, was driving one of the cars, and the two other women, aged 69 and 37, were passengers. See PA story ACCIDENT Deaths Ireland. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Smart cameras that detect motorists breaking red lights, and technology that picks up drivers not wearing seat belts or using mobile phones will form part of a new Government initiative to crackdown on careless and dangerous driving.

Taoiseach Simon Harris convened a meeting on Monday with the Road Safety Authority (RSA) to discuss what actions could be taken to respond to the rising number of deaths on Irish roads. Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan and the Minister of State for Road Safety Jack Chambers also attended the meeting.

So far in 2024, 63 people have been killed in traffic incidents in Ireland.

The actions agreed at the meeting included cameras at traffic lights that could detect drivers breaking red lights. These will be introduced by the start of next year. The drivers will be automatically prosecuted.


The cameras will be installed in Dublin initially as part of the BusConnects network and will take a photograph of the registration of any car that fails to stop at a red light. Mr Ryan confirmed on Monday they would then be rolled out nationwide.

It was also agreed that nine new locations would be closed for fixed speeding cameras. Three of these will detect the average speed of cars travelling on the N3/M3, N5 and N2 roadways.

Additionally, Mr Harris, RSA chair Liz O’Donnell, and its chief executive, Sam Waide, agreed that an additional €3 million would be made available to the agency this year for road safety campaigns.

In a statement, the Taoiseach also said that one of the actions would be to resolve any technical or legal issues that prevent enforcement cameras from identifying mobile phone use and seat belt wearing as offences.

This would allow An Garda Síochána to automatically prosecute drivers who are photographed not wearing seat belts, or texting or calling on a mobile phone while in control of a car.

The Government has also requested An Garda to provide it with ongoing enforcement activity plans. The meeting also noted the intention of Garda Commissioner Drew Harris to increase the manpower in roads policing.

The meeting was described as “constructive” and one which discussed wide-ranging issues.

Speaking after its conclusion, the Taoiseach said: “After nearly two decades of positive progress, we have seen recently a sudden, and worrying, increase in road deaths. This is unacceptable, and a renewed focus is needed on road safety and driver behaviour.

Mr Harris said he would shortly chair a meeting of the Government’s Ministerial Road Safety Committee to ensure early progress on the agreed actions.

Earlier on Monday, Mr Harris said he would be raising the issue of the backlog in driving test times, which was something the Government wanted to see progress on.

The Taoiseach said he had met with Mr Harris last week and the ministerial road safety committee would convene next week.

Mr Harris said the Garda Commissioner had committed to growing the number of gardaí in the road traffic division this year and looking at other ways to focus on road safety during a garda’s regular beat.

He said he was concerned about the level of Garda resources in road traffic policing and the Garda Commissioner had to “make difficult decisions with the resources available to him”.

Minister of State at the Department of Transport Jack Chambers said the Road Traffic Bill, which includes reductions in speed limits, reform of penalty points, and mandatory drug testing at the scene of serious collisions, needed to be complemented with a “serious uplift in enforcement” and that “enforcement levels have collapsed”.

“We also need to bring through measures and recommendations on reforming the Road Safety Authority,” he said.

“It’s an agency that’s been in existence for 20 years. We’ve had a consultation on their remit and we hope to bring recommendations to Government in the summertime on how we can reform the RSA so we can really accelerate the work of our wider road safety strategy.”

Elsewhere, Tánaiste Micheál Martin said that he believes something has changed among the Irish drivers since Covid-19 but that more analysis needs to be done to address the growing number of fatalities.

Mr Martin said that the rise in fatalities was worrying and must be addressed and while Mr Harris was committed to tackling the issue, saying Irish society generally needs to focus more on road safety.

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns is a reporter for The Irish Times

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times

Harry McGee

Harry McGee

Harry McGee is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times