herald

Sunday 23 September 2018

Speed vans save lives - and millions of euro - insist gardai

Gardai have rejected claims by a former traffic chief that speed vans have little impact when it comes to reducing road deaths, saying that if motorists slowed by even 1pc it would save seven lives a year.

In a lengthy letter marked "confidential", garda bosses outline the rationale for spending €14m a year outsourcing speed checks to GoSafe.

Former Garda John O'Brien has questioned if contracts awarded to the GoSafe consortium represent value for taxpayers' money, in a report he sent to the Dail's Public Accounts Committee.

He claimed the system was not specifically aimed at accident black spots and was weakening An Garda Siochana's own efforts to reduce speeds.

In a rebuttal signed by Inspector Sean O'Reardon, from the Commissioner's Office, the force admits it is difficult "to accurately quantify" the savings to the State in respect of the reduction in speed-related collisions.

He says this is because of the "multiple" road safety facets "being deployed relating to engineering, education and enforcement".

Study

However, Insp O'Reardon cites a study which states that a 1pc reduction in speed leads to a 2pc reduction in injury collisions, and a 4pc drop in fatal collisions.

"If the Safety Camera Project achieves a minimal 1pc reduction in mean speed, this should result in seven less people being killed on our roads annually," he states.

In this scenario, the financial saving is in the region of €17m.

GoSafe currently has 118 staff providing 7,400 hours of monitoring per calendar month.

If An Garda Siochana was to provide the same level of service, based on a 40-hour week, this would require 114 personnel.

Last year, GoSafe fines brought in almost €4.8m for the State, compared with €1.9m from enforcement activities undertaken by gardai.

Insp O'Reardon said the outsourcing of the operation of speed cameras "enhances the overall speed enforcement capability of An Garda Siochana".

"It complements the use of hand-held and tripod-mounted laser guns, as well as in-vehicle mounted Puma speed detection equipment by garda personnel."

He added that using GoSafe has freed up members of the Traffic Corps for other road policing functions, "providing a level of targeted enforcement which would not have been possible otherwise".

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