Now speed cameras to trap car tax cheats

Kevin Doyle

SPEED cameras could soon be be drafted in to help catch car tax dodgers and recover the unpaid €100m each year.

The idea comes in a report by the taxpayers' watchdog, the Comptroller and Auditor General -- but is likely to be hugely controversial.

The Department of Transport is seeking legal advice on extending car tax checks to the privately operated GoSafe speed vans, the report says.

If the project is approved, it would see the vans scanning the number plates of motorists and instantly checking those registrations against a national motor tax database.

Owners of vehicles whose tax is either out of date, or declared 'off-the-road' will be sent fines in the post. The Government hopes the move would pressurise drivers to pay their tax.

The privately operated cameras were put in traffic blackspots -- and any change in their use will be controversial.

The C&AG report warned that the move would "impact on the current deployment of safety camera vehicles and their original purpose to reduce the number of fatal and serious injury accidents".

The cameras cost €16m a year but were linked to 32 fewer deaths in their first 12 months of operation in 2011 and a saving to the State of €80m in the bill for road fatalities and serious injuries.

The report found motor tax dodgers escaped paying €50m last year -- a rate seven times higher than in the UK. A further €50m was lost by false 'off-the- road' declarations.


However, the comptroller said he had been told by the garda accounting officer that 78pc of those who received fixed-charge notices subsequently paid their motor tax and this was an effective deterrent.

The annual C&AG report also details a litany of waste, including the €225m that has been spent on planning projects that have now been mothballed.

They include €216m on Metro North, Metro West and the DART Underground.