Speed Cameras and (In)Appropriate Speed Limits

IRISH TIMES REPORTERS

Donegal will have 63 camera sites in 52 designated zones. Cork will have 62 camera sites in 48 zones; Meath will have 52 sites in 30 zones and Dublin will have 19 sites in 37 zones. In total, there are 750 safety camera sites and 518 zones.
Each zone may contain one or more sites. The speed cameras will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The Garda said analysis was “ongoing” and that these locations may change “over time”.
Garda Commissioner Fachtna Murphy said there will be some 750 hours of monitoring this month, gradually increasing to a capacity of 6,000 hours monitoring by February. The commissioner was joined by Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern, Minister for Transport Noel Dempsey and Road Safety Authority chief executive Noel Brett as the scheme was officially launched at Dublin Castle today.
Mr Ahern said he hoped people would respond by driving more slowly and that there would be fewer people killed and injured on the roads. The Minister and Garda Commissioner Fachtna Murphy signed a five-year €65 million contract with the GoSafe consortium to provide the service last November.
“It’s a huge investment from the taxpayers’ point of view over the next five years,” Mr Ahern said.
He said it was “frightening” to see how many people were killed on the roads each week and that trying to get people to reduce their speed was the “primary and principal aim” of the privately operated cameras.
It is the first time that a key element of day-to-day policing has been outsourced from the Garda.
“About 50 to 80 people died last year as a result of accidents where speed was the major factor and in some cases the sole factor.”
Mr Dempsey said he hoped the rollout of the cameras would have a “very significant” effect on the number of deaths and injuries. He hoped there would be no revenue generated from fines.
“That will mean people are actually obeying the speed limits. 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.”
The Garda Commissioner said enforcement would be “cranked up” from 750 hours for the rest of this month rising to the maximum of 6,000 from February.
Mr Murphy said 396 people died on the roads in 2005.
“We cranked up and increased the numbers in the Traffic Corps. We increased our technology and our capacity, and last year 240 people were killed.”
He said this was a “significant decrease” but it was not enough.
“This is about compliance with speed limits. It is about preventing excessive speeding, preventing inappropriate speeding and saving lives.”
Mr Brett said excessive and inappropriate speed was the greatest cause of death and injury every year.
“Speed at the point of impact really determines the outcome of virtually every single collision. The real way to avoid these cameras is to keep an eye on your speedometer. The idea here is that people change their behaviour.”
Mr Brett said if every motorist dropped their speed by 5 per cent, along with this initiative, it had the potential to save up to 50 lives per year. He said each road death cost the Exchequer €3 million.
Motorists caught speeding by the new cameras will be liable to penalty points and fines which will be administered by the Garda. The consortium is being paid a flat fee for the service. There is no provision for commissions or bonuses related to how many motorists are caught speeding. The consortium, led by the Spectra company, will be directed by the Garda and overseen by gardaí at the Garda Office for Safety Camera Management.
A road collision factbook produced this year by the Road Safety Authority shows that in single-vehicle crashes, speed was cited as the main factor in 54 per cent of cases. When two vehicles were in a fatal crash, speed was deemed to be the main cause in only 15 per cent of cases, with driving on the wrong side of the road causing 52 per cent of these.
The force uses eight mobile cameras in vans, 400 hand-held speeding devices and more than 100 automatic number plate recognition cameras which are installed in Garda cars for checks that capture about 200,000 speeding motorists annually.
The information is also available at http://www.garda.ie/gosafe.html and on the Garda Facebook page.

COMMENT: My main objection to this is the absurdly inappropriate speed limits coming off motorways : In Dublin, the Naas Road (N7) near the city, the M1 from the Port Tunnel entrance and going towards the airport. None of these should be 30 MPH. Areas where the traffic is routinely travelling along orderly at 10 KPH above the legal limit suggests that the legal limits are inappropriate. If you have information and opinions on inappropriate limits, send me an e-mail on billtormey@gmail.com. I will collate the information and post it here and then campaign for sensible change. The gardai have said that they will target areas where there is widespread >80% breach of gthe speed limit. The first thing they should do is review the limit and see does it fit under the umbrella of common sense. Will that happen? No, unless there is public pressure, which is where I come in. Conor Faughnan of the AA is also worth lobbying. I find him impressive (usually).