Sat-nav devices to warn drivers of speed traps
Network of vans patrol 760 blackspots
A fleet of 15 new speed camera vans came into operation at 760 locations across the nation at midnight last night to catch speeding motorists.
They were unveiled as it emerged that drivers with the latest satellite navigation (sat-nav) devices will be tipped off in advance if they are approaching the new privately-operated speed camera zones.
The garda website completely crashed yesterday after more than 50,000 motorists frantically tried to find their local network of speed zones. Gardai apologised for the failure of the website www.garda.ie.
Donegal has the biggest number of camera sites at 63.
It is followed by Cork (62 sites), Meath (52), Wexford (44) Tipperary (40), Waterford (38), Louth (36), Cavan and Limerick (both 35), Kilkenny (28), Kildare and Roscommon (27), Laois (26), Clare (25), Galway (24), Kerry and Westmeath (22), Carlow and Wicklow (20), and Dublin, Longford and Offaly (19). Counties with the least sites are Sligo (6), Leitrim (8), Mayo (16 ) and Monaghan (17)
Garda Commissioner Fachtna Murphy said he regretted the garda website failure, but insisted that it demonstrated the interest of "thousands and thousands" of drivers.
The zones are also on the garda facebook page.
But motorists with 'sat-nav' systems can update their software to include the speed check locations. As many as 11 million cars and trucks will be checked by the cameras every year.
This means that drivers can expect to have their speed checked at least six times a year.
If they are caught speeding each time, they will get a total of 12 penalty points -- enough to put them off the road.
Assistant Garda Commissioner John Twomey, speaking at the launch of the cameras at Dublin Castle yesterday, said 15 GoSafe vans would be deployed today, rising to 45 by next February.
He said the camera operators will provide 6,000 hours of monitoring and 1,475 hours of surveying per month.
The vans, clearly marked with speed check signs, will operate day and night, 24 hours a day in all types of weather.
There are a total of 750 safety camera sites and 518 zones. Each zone may contain one or more sites.
Transport Minister Noel Dempsey said the aim was to get people to slow down and obey the speed limit, and not to generate revenue.
"The Minister for Finance might not like me saying this, but I hope that we don't get any fines -- which will mean that people are not speeding," he added.
"We're not out there to catch anybody.
"We are out there just to remind them how dangerous speed is. If they break the rules, if they are caught on camera then they'll get what they deserve."
Road Safety Authority chief executive Noel Brett predicted that as many as 50 extra lives would be saved each year by the new system.
"We all know that driving too fast increases your risk of being involved in a serious or fatal collision. Yet, every year, approximately one third of road deaths are caused by speeding."
Fine Gael road safety spokesman Tom Hayes said the scheme was 10 years too late.
"If the Government had focused properly on road safety during the good years, there wouldn't be a single blackspot left in the country," he added.