GoSafe drivers paid €12 per hour to risk abuse and assault
Drivers ‘carrying plastic bottles to work for use in toilet breaks because of time pressure’
‘You are allowed to stretch your legs. But by its nature the position you are in is a dangerous stretch of road, that is why you are there.’
Patrick is proud of what he does. For 10 years, he has worked as a GoSafe speed detector van driver operating cameras that track driving habits of thousands of drivers annually.
In that time the numbers killed on the State’s roads have fallen by about 50 percent and at least some credit for this must go to those who enforce the speed limits, he feels.
But it is not a popular job. Patrick, and this is not his real name because he would speak only anonymously, works a nine- or 11-hour shift. Setting up for the day on the roadside, he often receives “the finger” from passing motorists.
Inside the van, he feels what he describes as “clock-face pressure” from the moment he runs through the safety list on taking control of his van, believing that there is “hardly” time to complete it.
Once there, often parking close into a ditch or a farm gate, he has to set up the camera which takes about 10 minutes and can involve leaving the van to ensure it is focused.
“GoSafe says I can go to a petrol station to use a toilet but if I leave the van out of my sight I might not be deemed to be in operational control if a case goes to court. Operatives know that so there is pressure not to go looking for a toilet.” He can go to a Garda station but not all gardaí are happy allowing the public to use their toilets, he explains. Or he could go back to base, but that can take an hour, depending on where he is.
“If the camera is turned off GoSafe only get paid for monitoring time up to turn off. If the van is moved you have to set up again and that takes time and there is pressure not to turn off the camera or to move the van.
“Many operatives take a plastic bottle into the van for use in toilet breaks. I heard a story of a guy being chased from a field by a bull,” he says.
“You are allowed to stretch your legs. But by its nature the position you are in is a dangerous stretch of road, that is why you are there. So there is a danger in getting out of the van.
Patrick says even remaining in the van has its dangers. In the north of the country somebody set fire to a van while the operator was still in it. “You get the finger. You get the shouts. You just hope not to get something more serious.”
For this the operatives are paid €12 per hour, based on a 39-hour week. Repeated efforts for comment from GoSafe via phone, email and text were unsuccessful on Monday.