Speed cameras 'save 22 lives'
New system linked to fall in road deaths by gardai
The number of road deaths has fallen dramatically in the last five weeks compared to the same period last year.
Senior gardai claim that 22 fewer deaths this year are linked to the new speed camera system, which was rolled out last month.
Assistant Garda Commissioner John Twomey, the head of the Garda Traffic Corps, yesterday branded the GoSafe camera checks a success in saving lives.
A total of 51 fewer deaths and serious injuries were recorded after the cameras were introduced on November 16.
The figure relates to the period before the recent cold snap took hold, forcing motorists to slow down or take public transport.
There was a similar dramatic fall in road deaths when penalty points were introduced in 2002.
But the 50pc reduction in deaths for the first four months after the points were introduced was quickly reversed as motorists realised the scheme was not backed up by adequately resourced garda enforcement.
Mr Twomey claimed there was a direct link between the GoSafe cameras and the reduction in deaths and serious injuries separate from the effect of the weather, adding: "There has been a reduction in speed across the network and, as a consequence, there has been fewer fatalities and serious injuries."
The private speed cameras have caught just 2,000 speeding drivers so far, but the number of vans is being increased. A total of 150,303 motorists were fined for speeding and got penalty points in the first 11 months of the year. Mr Twomey said that 547,000 drivers had been breath-tested so far this year and 10,500 were prosecuted.
Speaking at the launch of the Christmas and New Year road safety campaign, he warned that gardai would target pubs whose car parks were full.
President Mary McAleese, said 227 people who lost their lives on Irish roads this year, adding: "Sons and daughters, mothers and fathers, wives and husbands, friends and colleagues (of the dead) are carrying a grief that goes on and on."
Road Safety Authority chairman Gay Byrne said that, for every death on the road, there were at least eight serious injuries ranging from severe brain damage to lifelong disablement. "For these people and their families, life will never be the same," he said.