Thursday 22 August 2019

Gardai armed with 'hotlist' of uninsured drivers to clamp down on rogue motorists

Specialist mobile phone app will help officers catch motorists who push up cost of insurance

ROAD SAFETY MOVE: The new app will add to the arsenal in the fight against uninsured drivers. Stock picture
ROAD SAFETY MOVE: The new app will add to the arsenal in the fight against uninsured drivers. Stock picture

Mark O'Regan

Gardai have been armed with a 'hotlist' of uninsured drivers to clamp down on rogue motorists driving up premiums for road users.

And it has also emerged that a specially designed app - to allow a garda check a driver's details at the roadside on their personal mobile phone - is currently being developed.

In a landmark move, an automatic roadside number plate computer system, loaded with a highly sophisticated database of all known insured and uninsured vehicles, is now being rolled out.

There has been a significant increase in the estimated number of uninsured private vehicles - with the figure growing by more than 32,000 last year. And the number of uninsured cars has nearly doubled to over 150,000 in the space of five years.

Uninsured or unidentified drivers cost between €50m and €60m a year, accounting for about 7pc of all motor insurance claims in this country.

Now the Department of Transport has confirmed the first phase of providing lists of insured and uninsured vehicles to the Gardai is undergoing "initial testing" on the force's Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) system.

The first stage involves the Motor Insurers' Bureau of Ireland (MIBI) providing insured and uninsured lists to An Garda Siochana.

The nationwide roll-out of ANPR technology was completed in 2010 within the Garda Traffic Corps.

There are currently some 100 operational units, with ANPR resources deployed in all Garda divisions.

The number of vehicles allocated to each division varies, depending on the type of roads, the amount of motorways, and "geographic profile" of the area to be covered.

The Department added that the updated system will help gardai catch rogue drivers, reducing the cost of "premiums of ordinary motorists".

It is hoped this will lead to an overall drop in the price of motor insurance, given the cost of accidents involving the uninsured ends up being added to the premium of a law-abiding driver.

Meanwhile, a specially designed phone app is currently being developed to provide gardai access to a specialist database.

Only "authorised users" will be provided with the app, providing access to a database containing the names and details of insured and uninsured motorists, their driving licence, and insurance policy number.

Sources say the technology could in the future allow for gardai to have automatic number plate recognition technology on their jacket, which would process vehicle and owner details, as officers walk down a street. These developments come after the price of private vehicle insurance soared in recent years.

Premiums have risen by 70pc on average over the last three years.

In the past two years alone some drivers saw the cost of their cover jump by 200pc.

In a statement, An Garda Siochana confirmed they are currently working with the MIBI, and the Irish Insurance Federation to track down uninsured drivers across the country.

The implementation of full number-plate recognition was one of the key recommendations from the Cost of Insurance Working Group, which was established by the Government last year,.

This was charged with identifying measures that would lead to reduced motor insurance costs.

Sunday Independent

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