Sunday 23 July 2017

New high-tech camera can tell if motorist is speeding in Port Tunnel

Chief Superintendent Aidan Reid (left) and Assistant Commissioner Michael Finn monitor screens in the control room at the Dublin Port Tunnel headquarters. Photo: PA
Chief Superintendent Aidan Reid (left) and Assistant Commissioner Michael Finn monitor screens in the control room at the Dublin Port Tunnel headquarters. Photo: PA
Paul Melia

Paul Melia

Technology to track the average speed of a driver will be rolled out to other areas after being introduced in Dublin's Port Tunnel this week.

The majority of motorists using the tunnel are speeding - but those caught breaking the 80kmh limit from today will be hit with an automatic fine and penalty points.

An automatic speed camera system will track drivers as they travel through the 4.5km tunnel, and any found to be completing the trip in less than three minutes and 30 seconds will be prosecuted.

Now gardaí want to roll out the system to other heavily trafficked roads to reduce collisions and improve safety.

Figures from Transport Infrastructure Ireland, which operates the tunnel, show that 58pc of motorists exceed the speed limit, with 20pc travelling in excess of 90kmh.

The highest speeding rates are among southbound motorists, who enter the tunnel from the motorway network.

But gardaí hope a €570,000 average speed detection system, which went live at midnight, will change that.

The system works using cameras mounted on tall yellow poles at the tunnel entrance which capture two images of each passing vehicle, including the registration plate, along with the time of day.

A second camera captures the vehicle's details as it exits, and the system automatically compares the time difference.

Vehicles which complete the trip in less than three minutes and 30 seconds are marked as speeding.

Gardaí download the information, and a fixed charge penalty notice is automatically sent. Average speeds are recorded between two camera positions covering all lanes, meaning that switching lanes while in the tunnel will have no effect on average speed monitoring.

The system was first mooted in June 2016 by Transport Infrastructure Ireland and gardaí. It is the first average speed camera enforcement system in Ireland.

Assistant Commissioner in charge of roads policing Michael Finn said the system was not about imposing fines.

"We don't want to go out and catch people, this is about road safety," he said, adding that warning notices about the new system had been erected.

"When the cameras (on yellow poles) went in, the public saw them, they started to slow down. We'd like to see it extended to other places, there's great potential for it.

"Traffic levels through the tunnel have increased by 40pc over the last five years, which means that, statistically, there is a greater chance of collisions and accidents."

Around 24,000 vehicles use the tunnel every day, and research suggests that use of the average speed detection system could reduce collision rates by as much as 50pc.

It also has potential to catch motorists driving untaxed or uninsured cars, but there are no plans to do this at the moment, gardaí said.

Irish Independent

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