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Explainer: How do speed vans work and is there a person inside them - all your questions answered


A 'GoSafe' speed camera van

A 'GoSafe' speed camera van

A 'GoSafe' speed camera van

Despite the wind and rain that battered the Ploughing Championships in Tullamore this week, the Road Safety Authority (RSA) and Garda GoSafe display managed to draw crowds in as they explained how speed cameras work.

With minimum enforcement hours of 7,400 hours per month, speed vans are something most motorists will come across on a regular basis.

We spoke to Darren McGrath, operations manager for GoSafe, about the most frequently asked questions about speed cameras.

So how do speed cameras work?

Roads around Ireland are divided into a number of zones and sites, which determine where the vans will park.

"The zones are based on live data that is generated from road traffic collisions, from fatalities, from minor injuries and also from speeding," Mr McGrath told FarmIreland.

"We would regularly monitor the data and determine where we need to be from time to time. If the compliance is high, we don't need to be there as regularly.

"Road traffic collisions have a huge bearing, particularly fatalities, on where we're going to go."

Is there a person inside the van?

There certainly is - the vans are manned at all times, and the GoSafe runs 24/7, for all 365 days of the year.

How do the cameras catch people speeding?

"We monitor from the back of the van, so the camera is on the back of the van," Mr McGrath explains.

"When you're moving past the back of the van, either coming towards or moving away, the van can monitor that speed."

And how near to the van do you have to be for it to track your speed?

"The general rule of thumb that we would use is that if you can see the van, you're generally in range."

Are Gardaí purposely looking to catch people speeding?

Despite opinions that Gardaí are trying to "catch people out", Mr McGrath explains that the main goal of GoSafe is "to save lives", and claims that road deaths have reduced by 50pc since they first launched.

"The purpose of GoSafe isn't to catch people speeding, it's to prevent people from speeding," he said.

"Our number one goal is to save lives and we try and do that by encouraging people to obey the speed limits and to slow down essentially.

"Since we started in 2010, we have reduced road deaths by 50pc."

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