Alcohol locks and tracking devices planned for drivers who flout law
Published 02/12/2011 | 05:00
DRIVERS who repeatedly flout road-traffic laws face the prospect of having tracking devices and alcolocks installed in their vehicles.
The Road Safety Authority (RSA) is to examine whether repeat offenders could be forced to install devices to limit the speed of their cars; alcolocks which require them to take a breath test before the ignition can be switched on; and tracking devices, which would record where they travelled and their driving behaviour.
Road-traffic offences are currently penalised through on-the-spot fines, disqualifications, court appearances and penalty points, but the RSA wants to explore if other methods could be used to punish offenders.
Among the options being considered are alcolocks, speed limiters, tachographs -- which measure distance travelled and time spent driving -- and speed-monitoring/tracking devices, which record driver behaviour, with breaches of road-safety laws sent to a central server.
It is not yet clear how much the devices would cost or whether the offender would have to pay the bill.
Speed limiters can cost up to €900 and can be installed in any type of vehicle.
Consultants have been asked to consider legal issues that might arise, how the devices could be installed and the costs of doing this.
"These could be applied in substitution for or in tandem with the normal penalties applied by the courts, which would be a matter for the individual judge to decide, given the circumstances or gravity of a case," an RSA spokesman said.
"The study that is expected to be commissioned will examine how such measures might work in practice, how have they worked elsewhere and how can they could be implemented here."
In the Netherlands, for example, new laws which came into effect yesterday oblige convicted drink-drivers to fit their cars with alcolocks, which automatically lock the engine if the driver is over the limit.
The laws apply to drivers who are caught six times over the legal limit and will be installed for two years with a possible six-year extension if the driver continues to drink and drive.
According to the RSA spokesman, those who assess the available options "will also examine and evaluate the road-safety benefits and consider the the appropriate circumstances where they might be applied and whether they should apply for particular offences or ages."
Such devices are frequently used by transport companies to monitor employees' driving behaviour.
Some insurance companies also give reductions in premiums to younger drivers who agree to have speed limiters fitted to their vehicles.
A working group made up of the RSA, An Garda Siochana and the departments of Justice and Transport have been working on a new sentencing system to see if the courts could apply additional sanctions on dangerous drivers.
The EU also wants alcolocks to be installed in all new cars from 2016 in an effort to reduce fatalities.