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Number of GoSafe speed detection vans should be increased by 100%, committee hears

The need for new laws to combat the rise in road deaths and serious injuries was questioned at the Oireachtas Transport Committee on Wednesday.

Senator Regina Doherty of Fine Gael asked Minister for State at the Department of Transport Jack Chambers of Fianna Fáil: “Why, when we have a lorry-load of laws, are the current laws not working?”

She also asked how road deaths were rising so sharply over the last three years, when traffic was substantially reduced due to Covid-19.

Ms Doherty said she wanted to make it clear that she was not opposed to Government measures in the Road Traffic Bill to address road safety, but she said there may be simpler, more immediate actions that could be taken.


She asked why it was proposed to increase the number of hours the GoSafe speed detection vans were deployed by just 20 per cent: “Why not 100 per cent?” she said.

Ms Doherty said the vans were a particularly effective deterrent to speeding “so why not 100 per cent, why not do something as simple as that”.

Green Party TD Steven Matthews said the Garda appeared to prioritise enforcement on motorways and on national roads, but he suggested more emphasis should be placed on deploying gardaí in town centres and urban areas where young people and the elderly were vulnerable to “poor driver behaviour”.

Independent TD Michael Lowry said he was aware of speed limits set by local authorities that “annoy the public”. He gave the example of the M7/N7 approach to Dublin, where he said the road dropped from 120km/h to 80km/h with no obvious deterioration in the quality of the road.

Committee chairman Gerry Horkan of Fianna Fáil also raised the issue of speed limit,s saying most people would be familiar with rural roads “with grass growing up the middle” where the limit was 80km/h.

At the same time, he said, the N11 from Belfield to Cabinteely in south Dublin saw frequent enforcement of a 60km /h speed limit, even “at 10am on a Sunday morning”. “That is where we lose the public buy-in,” he said.

Mr Chambers said the Road Traffic Measures Bill 2023 was being drafted at a time when there were 155 fatalities on the State’s roads so far this year, an annual increase of 31 per cent, compared to this time last year.

Responding to Ms Doherty, he said “the trend” of serious collisions continued upwards over the period before and after Covid-19. He said there were a number of areas where legislation was necessary, particularly in the area of penalty points.

Mr Chambers said the Bill proposes changing the 2002 Act, which specifies that where a person commits more than one penalty point offence on the same occasion, they will receive only one set of penalty points. The new Bill will provide for motorists to receive penalty points for each offence.

Green Party TD Steven Matthews suggested more emphasis should be placed on deploying gardaí in town centres and urban areas

Mr Chambers also said the Bill would allow the Minister for Transport to set higher penalty points for periods when road safety risks are higher. “For example, evidence-based figures suggest bank holiday weekends have a higher level of road deaths, serious injuries and other driving offences,” he said.

He said that “increasing points for specified periods is likely to have a positive impact on driver behaviour”.

Mr Chambers told Ms Doherty the Garda was keen to maximise the use of the GoSafe speed detection vans. He said the contract provided for a maximum increase of 20 per cent in the number of hours of operation and the Garda was anxious to avail of this.

“This announcement is positive, and will play an important role in addressing speed on our roads. I have also received assurances that additional resources will be deployed to roads policing as recruitment continues,” he said.