Members of the public have been asked to help gardaí catch heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) driving in central Dublin without a valid permit.
A new app - the HGV Permit Checker - has been launched by Dublin City Council to enable the public and gardaí to see if certain vehicles are entitled to be in the city or are travelling in breach of a ban introduced more than a decade ago.
Shortly after the opening of the Dublin Port Tunnel in 2007 trucks with five axles or more were prohibited from passing through a city centre cordon, roughly bounded by the two canals, in an attempt to improve traffic flow and the environment in central Dublin. There is a prohibition on these vehicles travelling within the cordon between 7am and 7pm daily.
A limited permit for vehicles that need to load and unload within the city is available for €10 and Dublin City Council says it issues an average of 80 such permits a day. HGV drivers who enter the designated area without a permit can be fined €800.
Dublin City Council and An Garda Síochána were unable to say how many of these fines have been issued.
The council did say, however, that the number of vehicles with five axles or more on routes in the cordon area has fallen by between 80 and 94 per cent since 2007.
Brendan O’Brien, Dublin City Council’s head of technical services, said the HGV cordon had been “very successful” over the last 12 years but there were will still locations “where trucks are coming in that don’t have permits”.
“We could put in an extensive camera network throughout the city but we’ll never cover every single road,” he said.
“We’re part of an EU project called Be-Good which is all about opening up public data and making it available to the public. So we’ve opened up the data about what truck has a permit and the public are being invited then to use it and to help us with the overall enforcement which is good for everybody.”
An Garda Síochána is to work with the council to develop "heat maps" of problematic areas and will target these, said Tom Murphy, An Garda Síochána's acting chief superintendent for Dublin Metropolitan Region Traffic.
He said that since there had been an increase in construction work around the city and he saw “a lot of five axle trucks, cement lorries and that around” and that he would like to be able to check whether they have the permits or not.
“Heretofore, the problem we had was that when we checked with our own communications whether a truck had a or a permit or not, if we got it back negative and pulled over the truck they would have had the facility to apply for the permit and it was issued immediately,” he said.
“This new app has a built in delay so when we check the truck and pull them over, they won’t have that facility anymore and they face prosecution.”