Lucky escape as speed camera van set alight
Gardai were last night hunting for the arsonist who set one of the new speed monitoring vans on fire.
The civilian van operator had a lucky escape when the front of the vehicle was set alight and flames quickly spread to the rear where he was using the survey equipment.
It was parked at a known blackspot at Carrick Road, Dundalk, Co Louth, when the arsonist struck around 4.45am yesterday.
Gardai in Dundalk are investigating the motivation for the attack.
Detectives were trying to establish if there was any criminal or dissident republican involvement. The attack took place on the Dundalk to Carrickmacross Road, not far from the border.
The fire began after a front window of the van was smashed and inflammable liquid was poured on to the seat and then set alight. The flames quickly enveloped the vehicle and the operator had to jump out through the rear.
The van is one of a fleet sent out by the gardai earlier this month to monitor accident blackspots.
A private company, GoSafe, was contracted by Justice Minister Dermot Ahern and Garda Commissioner Fachtna Murphy to operate mobile safety cameras as a back-up to the force's speed enforcement equipment.
Mr Murphy condemned the attack as an outrageous and reckless act that could have had grave and tragic consequences.
Gardai said they were anxious to hear from anyone who might have seen a silver car with two occupants in the area.
Mr Murphy, who was attending the Garda Reserve graduation ceremony in Templemore, Co Tipperary, said GoSafe van personnel were out on the roads day and night, working with his force to reduce the needless loss of lives on the roads.
"It is important work directed at ensuring that fewer families and communities here have to endure the pain and suffering, which follows road collisions and deaths," he added.
"This is all about saving lives and involves surveying and enforcement. On a phased basis, it is intended that GoSafe will provide 6,000 enforcement hours and 1,475 survey hours per month across the country from February.
"The survey hours will be conducted from unmarked vans to allow them to accurately record the speeds at which vehicles are travelling, for survey purposes only," he said.
Gardai said an extensive analysis of collisions on the road network has been completed. The sections of road identified were found to have a significant proportion of collisions where speed was a contributory factor and their locations were available to motorists by clicking on the map on the garda website.
Ongoing surveys would be carried out to ensure that safety cameras were situated on those roads for speed monitoring and enforcement.
The garda national traffic bureau determines the locations and times of the safety camera locations and there is no financial incentive associated with increased detection rates, officers stressed.