Road safety successes see fines collected fall, PAC told

Under of third of cost of GoSafe system being covered annually by fines generated

A  video camera mounted in a Garda Traffic vehicle.  Photograph: Frank Miller/The Irish Times

A video camera mounted in a Garda Traffic vehicle. Photograph: Frank Miller/The Irish Times


The success of the Garda’s road traffic enforcement operations in recent years has been much higher than best international practice, an Oireachtas committee heard today.

However, it means not enough fines are being generated to cover the €15 million cost of the controversial outsourcing of mobile speed cameras in vans, the Public Accounts Committee was told.

Less than one third of the cost of the GoSafe system is being covered annually by the fines generated, despite projections at the start of the project that it would pay for itself.

However, acting Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan said the system had been a great success in pushing road deaths down to record low levels; from 396 in 2005 to 190 last year, the third lowest number of fatalities since records began.

And she told the committee at a hearing this morning while she did not want to speak of road collisions in financial terms, the reduction in deaths or serious injury from collisions had resulted in very significant savings for the State.

She told the committee the ESRI estimated every fatality on the roads cost €2.28 million while serious injuries cost on average €305,000 each. In the period between 2000 and 2005, such road traffic fatalities had cost €4.7 billion.

Ms O’Sullivan added while in other jurisdictions speed cameras had brought about rates of 50 per cent compliance, in the Republic it had been 86 per cent just after the mobile GoSafe cameras were introduced in November 2010 and was now between 86 per cent and 99 per cent.

The highest rate was in 100km zones, where 99 per cent of compliance has been achieved.

The Comptroller & Auditor General said fatalities had reduced between 2010 where the GoSafe cameras were introduced in 518 zones nationwide and 2012.

However, there were much bigger reductions in fatalities in those zones in the period from 2005 to 2009, before the new system was introduced and as road traffic enforcement was increased generally across the State.

The five-year GoSafe contract will expire in four months and is being reviewed.

Ms O’Sullivan said it was anticipated the contract will be extended, but its focus and general operation was constantly monitored and its implemented changed of conditions required.

She said while detections from the GoSafe system had fallen - from just over 70,000 in the first six months of 2011 to just over 30,000 in the second half of last year - this was proof the system was working.

The locations were the vans were being placed was publicised online for motorists to see because the aim was for the vans to act as a deterrent to speeding, rather a covert enforcement system aimed at catching as many people speeding as possible.