Private cameras catch 40pc more motorists speeding
THE number of motorists caught speeding this year is expected to rise by almost 40pc following the introduction of private speed cameras.
Figures obtained by the Irish Independent reveal that more than 100,000 motorists have been caught speeding since the private cameras came into operation last February.
The GoSafe cameras are raking in €1m a month from drivers, despite prominent signage warning of their locations.
These speeding detections are on top of around 150,000 made by gardai this year.
This leaves the combination of private and garda speed checks on course for over 260,000 detections by the end of the year -- over 700 a day.
In comparison, just 157,831 motorists were nabbed by gardai last year, prior to the introduction of the private cameras.
The introduction of the system has been credited with saving as many as 32 lives and preventing 100 serious injuries by getting many drivers to slow down in accident black spots.
GoSafe is costing the Exchequer €13m a year, but more than €8m in revenues has already been taken in during an eight-month period this year.
Despite the apparent success of the private cameras, there is intense speculation that the Department of Justice is anxious to cut back on the contract in a bid to reduce its costs.
This has alarmed road-safety officials, who believe that this would quickly lead to an increase in road deaths.
Gardai have also been forced to drastically cut back on their own speed checks because their overtime budget has been eaten up by the state visits of Barack Obama and Queen Elizabeth.
Justice Minister Alan Shatter said the objective was to reduce the number of speed-related collisions and save lives and prevent serious injury, rather than to generate revenue.
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. The Irish target is for a reduction of up to 50 fatalities each year.
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 deployed mainly late at night and in the early mornings of weekends, when there is less traffic but most road deaths, especially among young male drivers. Analysis of the sites is ongoing and the locations may change over time.
The five-year €65m contract with GoSafe includes the start-up IT costs.