Thursday 25 December 2014

Hundreds of new speed traps to catch rogue drivers

Treacy Hogan

Published 02/01/2013 | 05:00

MOTORISTS will face hundreds of new speed camera zones within weeks.

The Irish Independent has learned privately operated GoSafe cameras are being moved to new road stretches where there is a history of speed-related fatal or serious injury crashes.

Local authorities around the country will be erecting new signs alerting drivers that they are in the speed camera zones.

The move is the first of its kind since the camera network was rolled out two years ago -- and the new zones are expected to be posted on the garda website.

The decision to target new routes with the cameras came after 2012 set a new historic low for road deaths.

Last year, 161 people lost their lives on our roads, down from 186 in 2011.

The Road Safety Authority said safety cameras were a key factor in the 40pc reduction in pedestrian deaths last year.

In 2011, there were 47 pedestrians killed but this dropped to 28 last year.

RSA spokesman Brian Farrell said the safety cameras were there to save lives.

"We must highlight that drivers are slowing down and that's borne out by speed surveying by ourselves and the gardai, and the work that the safety cameras are doing in terms of slowing people down," he said.

Mr Farrell said the RSA's research showed that the vast majority of the public were supportive of speed cameras.

"It's not about catching people and generating revenue, it's about stopping people from speeding and being seriously injured on our roads," he said.

But despite prominent signage warning of their locations they are still raking in €1m a month from drivers who continue to speed.

All of the revenue is sent to the Exchequer, as the GoSafe company is paid a set fee.

Road deaths fell by 40pc in France and 30pc in Sweden when similar schemes were introduced.

Road safety chiefs are confident the Irish target for a reduction of up to 50 fatalities each year is being met based on the casualty figures.

The GoSafe vans were first rolled out in November 2010, but the system was not fully operational until early 2011.

In their first full year of operation in 2011 they were credited with saving 32 lives and preventing 100 serious injuries by getting many drivers to slow down in accident black spots.

Under the direction of gardai, the GoSafe cameras provide 6,000 hours of filming every month. They can operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

However, the cameras are mainly deployed late at night and in the early mornings at weekends, when there is less traffic but most road deaths, especially among young male drivers.

Road Safety Authority (RSA) chairman Gay Byrne said yesterday that he had been informed about the change in the locations of the GoSafe cameras from January.

Locations

"They will be changing locations, and they will be notifying motorists of the changed locations," he told the Irish Independent.

"That will mean that different parts of the country will now be tackled."

Mr Byrne added: "We hope that drivers are getting the message to slow down from the cameras. The hope is that when they move to some other area, the feeling will be the same in that drivers will decide to keep under the limit."

It is not clear if some of the roads currently covered by cameras will continue to be monitored or whether all new routes will be selected.

However roads with a high number of serious crashes where speed is a factor will be targeted. The Garda Press Office said a media briefing would be held prior to the new locations being introduced.

A total of 176,730 drivers were caught speeding up to the end of September. The total for 2011 was 262,602, compared to just 177,549 in 2008.

Detection rates for 2011 trebled during some months, compared to the same periods the previous year, due to the extra enforcement provided by the GoSafe cameras.

Initial government plans in 1998 were to purchase 600 fixed cameras to be located at accident blackspots around the country. But gardai are now satisfied that mobile cameras, which can be moved from zone to zone at different times and days are far more effective.

Initial government plans were to introduce fixed cameras to be located at accident blackspots. However gardai are now satisfied that mobile cameras, which can be moved from zone to zone at different times and days are far more effective against speeding.

Irish Independent

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