Penalties handed out to 106 toll-dodgers
Some 106 toll-dodging drivers have been caught tailgating and risking lives on the country's busiest road.
Reckless motorists are driving at high speed less than 50 inches behind high-sided lorries or HGVs to hide their registration plates from automatic cameras.
But operators of the barrier-free tolling system eflow warned a second set of cameras has been installed to capture the numbers and letters on the rear plates.
Sergeant Jim Mc Allister, of the Garda Road Safety Unit, said peak-time motorists were taking huge risks.
"It's just ridiculous," he said.
"These trucks are travelling at 80km per hour on quite a busy section of roadway.
"To avoid being identified motorists are driving within four feet of the truck. In good dry conditions the stopping distance is 172.9 feet.
"A simple mechanical difficulty, or anything at all that would cause that truck to slow down, will cause a collision and the chances are a number of vehicles would be involved."
More than 100,000 vehicles use the M50 free-flow system every day, of which 75pc have registered for a tolling account to avail of lower toll charges.
Simon McBeth, director of communications and customer relations at eflow, warned driving within inches of HGVs in an attempt to hide a licence plate number from overhead toll cameras was a dangerous practice.
"Tailgating is a reckless act that puts lives at risk for the sake of avoiding a €3 charge," he said.
Unmarked Garda registration recognition cars stopped more than 100 motorists for tailgating offences on the M50 in recent months. Each was penalised with two penalty points and an €80 fine - the equivalent to 26 journeys through the toll.
Four special operations - combining road side Garda patrols and eflow technology - resulted in:
- 14 vehicles stopped on October 29, 2010;
- 21 vehicles on November 17;
- 30 vehicles on November 24;
- and 41 vehicles caught between February 16 and March 3.
Mr McBeth said tailgating was being addressed by combining its technology with Garda roadside patrols and the installation of new cameras.
"The combination of both front and rear cameras now means that there is no hiding place for tailgating offenders," he added.
"We are confident that these measures will make driving on the M50 safer."