The Garda Representative Association has opposed a proposal from the Road Safety Association that motorists should face speeding fines linked to income, which could see some motorists facing bills of €1,000 or more.
The proposal is to be included in a safety strategy to be given shortly to Minister for Transport Shane Ross by the RSA, and is strongly backed by the organisation's chief executive Moya Murdock.
Eighteen months ago Ms Murdock argued that an €80 fine is having little effect on higher-earning drivers: "€80 is nothing to someone who is driving a Range Rover or similar type vehicle", she then said.
Income-linked spending fines came into force in the UK this week. Motorists caught doing 51mph (82km/h) in a 30mph (48km/h) zone or 101mph (163km/h) on a motorway could face fines of up to 1.5 times weekly income.
However, the RSA is understood to be most interested in the system that operates in Finland, where fines are calculated by a table linked to both income and speed.
In 2004, Jussi Salonoja, a wealthy 27-year-old businessman was caught driving at twice the speed limit. He was fined €170,000. Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Austria, France and Switzerland all have "sliding scale" fines.
However, the GRA was highly critical of the RSA’s proposal, describing it as “very unhealthy”. It said the emphasis of road safety campaigners should be on “the preservation of life” rather than the size of speeding fines.
Speaking at the association's annual conference in Galway, general secretary Pat Ennis said greater budgets for the Garda Traffic Corps were required. "That's the priority."
If introduced in Ireland the UK system would mean startling fines for high-earners if they were guilty of speeding:
– Minister for Transport Shane Ross: Based on an annual salary of €161,451 (€89,965 for being a TD plus €71,486 for being a Minister) giving a weekly salary of €3,104 and a potential fine of €4,657.24.
– Taoiseach Enda Kenny: Based on a salary of €190,233 (€89,965 for being a TD and €100,268 for being Taoiseach), giving a weekly wage of €3,658.32 and a potential fine of €5,487.
– The average industrial worker was paid €844.40 a week in the last quarter of 2016, according to the Central Statistics Office. This would expose them to a potential fine of €1,266.60.
– Those working in financial, insurance and property on an average of €1,095.60 per week would face a potential fine of €1,643.40
– A garda trainee on the first point on the incremental pay scale and before allowances would earn €28,405.30 a year (€546.26 a week). If guilty they would be fined €819.39.
– A secondary school teacher on the first point of a 25-point pay scale earns €596.32 per week, giving a potential liability of €894.