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Fury at road safety body over €150 vouchers for disqualified drivers

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The research was conducted by an NUI Galway academic

The research was conducted by an NUI Galway academic

The research was conducted by an NUI Galway academic

The Road Safety Authority (RSA) is facing criticism after people who served driving bans were given vouchers worth €150 for taking part in a research project.

Vouchers were given to 30 motorists who returned to the road after a period of disqualification. The RSA has defended the practice, saying it was permitted under ethical research guidelines and that it would have otherwise been difficult to recruit the drivers.

It said the research, conducted by an NUI Galway academic over the past year, was aimed at “gaining an understanding of the pathways to disqualification and to inform appropriate mitigation strategies”. But the payment of the drivers has drawn the fury of Parc, a road safety campaign group. Parc member Cathy Reid, whose son Karl Robertson was killed in a hit-and-run by a disqualified driver while out jogging in 2017, said the group believed it sent out a very dangerous message.

“I just can’t believe it. I am just extremely upset and so angry that they are rewarding disqualified drivers for bad behaviour on the roads.”

Ms Reid said it was unthinkable that payments of any kind would be made to people who may have put lives in danger.

The RSA used its social media channels to promote the research project. In a post on its Facebook page, it asked drivers who had been disqualified in the past five years but who were now back on the road to come forward. The post advertised that a €150 One4all voucher would be given to participants “in recognition of importance of this work for reducing burden of road traffic collisions”.

In response to queries from the Irish Independent, the RSA said the research was a qualitative study involving in-depth interviews.

“The use of incentives is recognised as a standard, acceptable practice for the recruitment of participants and is permitted under all major ethical guidelines,” the RSA said in a statement.

The results of the research are expected to be published in spring 2021.

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