Tuesday 21 November 2017

Gardai ordered to stop at red lights while chasing suspects

Gardai will now have to stop at traffic lights
Gardai will now have to stop at traffic lights
Jim Cusack

Jim Cusack

The vast majority of gardai can no longer exceed speed limits — even when responding to life or death situations.

The new rules on driving mean officers who have not done an advanced training course must observe speed limits and not use their blue light while their car is in motion.

A directive given to gardai also says they must “obey the rules of the road”, which will restrict them from driving in bus lanes and going through red lights, even if the route is clear.

If caught driving outside the rules of the road and stopped by the Traffic Corps, gardai will also face fines and penalty points — just like other drivers, they have been told.

The new driving regime, introduced at the start of the month, was described by a some garda sources as “ridiculous” and “total s***e” this weekend.

Gardai are being instructed to attend a one-day course and, if they pass, are given forms known as CBD1 (competency-based driving 1). Only drivers who have completed the three to four-week advanced course — now known as CBD2 — are allowed to speed and use their sirens and lights when driving.

However, sources say the garda driving school has been run down over recent years to the extent that only a handful of gardai at a time are in training.

The training centres in the Phoenix Park and in the Garda College in Templemore can handle only around 10 trainees at a time and often less, according to sources.

Before the new regulations were introduced, an ad hoc system prevailed where all gardai could breach speed limits and use their sirens even without the advanced training. This was known as ‘chief’s permission’ and was granted usually after a half day’s informal training under the supervision of a station sergeant.

Gardai are said to be angry at the new system. According to sources, some are even deliberately failing the rules of the road test part of the course.

One source told the Sunday Independent: “This is ridiculous, you couldn’t make this up. If we have a call to an armed incident, we are expected to drive within the limit and not use the siren. It’s not just the uniformed lads too, it’s the people in NBCI (National Bureau of Crime Investigation) and the Special Branch who will be feeling like eejits over this.”

The Garda Press Office said figures for CBD2 qualified drivers were “unavailable”.

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