Car seatbelt and phone offenders escape speed van

Cormac Byrne

New mobile speed camera vans will not be used to check on drivers using phones or the non-wearing of seatbelts.

Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern has dismissed rumours that the speed vans could be used to monitor road traffic offences other than speeding.

The prospect of the project being expanded was raised by Labour TD Jan O'Sullivan in a parliamentary question.

"The objective of the outsourced garda mobile safety cameras is to reduce the number of speed related collisions and so save lives, as excessive or inappropriate speeding is a major factor in road traffic collisions," Mr Ahern said in reply.

"There are currently no plans to extend the use of the cameras to detect non-wearing of seat belts or the use of mobile phones while driving.

"All members of An Garda Siochana are tasked with the enforcement of road traffic legislation as part of road traffic law enforcement activity or general policing.

"Members of An Garda Siochana carry out planned and unplanned checkpoints to detect breaches across the whole range of road traffic and transport legislation, including the non-wearing of seatbelts and the use of mobile phones while driving."

The new privately operated vans will spend 6,000 hours each month in the designated zones around the country.

A significant number will monitor secondary roads because deaths mainly happen on such roads. The vans will reinforce the eight garda traffic camera vans in operation.

The private company, named GoSafe, will be paid a fixed sum a month, regardless of the number of detections. The company is not on a commission basis and the new van fleet will not be a "revenue-raising" force for the Exchequer.

The new cameras will monitor some 600 areas, more than 60 of them in Dublin, which have been identified as accident blackspots.