Motorists to be told exact locations of speed cameras
Richard Oakley
IRISH motorists will be told the exact locations of the country’s new, privatised speed cameras in order to avoid a public backlash.

A government committee set up to implement the introduction of the devices has decided their positions will be revealed once finalised. “These are sites where accidents are more likely to occur and it is in the public interest to know where they are,” said a committee source.

The move is designed to ensure public support for the new speed cameras, due to be introduced towards the end of the year, and to prove they are going to be used as a safety measure rather than a revenue-generating one.

Up to 300 cameras, both fixed and mobile, will be used at the 600 locations chosen. Once they are in place it is estimated that 50% of the country’s vehicles will pass a speed camera at least once a month. They are to be used mainly on rural and national roads rather than motorways, where accidents are less likely to occur.

It had been suggested that a number of the systems would be covert and used to trap motorists unaware that they were at risk of being caught speeding in that particular area.

The system will still have a random element, however, as although drivers will know where cameras are sited, they will not know when they are in operation.

“We are in the process of drawing up a list of sites where the speed cameras are going to be used,” said one transport official. “It is our intention that the public will be told where these are as this is part of our strategy of increasing safety and slowing drivers down.

“If you decide that an area is a high-risk one and needs a speed camera then you should tell people about it and give them a chance to drive safely in the first place. If you catch no body, the system is doing its job and if you catch someone, the likelihood is that it is a person who consistently speeds.”

He added: “When the cameras are introduced the gardai will still have the option of setting up the normal speed checks they do now, so it’s not as if people will be free to speed up between camera sites.”

The Department of Transport has already assured motorists that the firm hired to run the country’s speed cameras will be paid a fixed fee rather than an amount based on the number of fines it issues. This was demanded by the Automobile Association (AA), the motorist lobby group, which said that it was necessary to ensure the system was run fairly.

The transport department said research in Britain shows that deploying cameras at black spots reduced road deaths by more than 35% and that incidents of speeding fell by 10% in countries where they are used.

The roll-out of privatised speed cameras has been included in the road-safety strategy as a means of reducing road deaths. Additional measures include random breath-testing and penalty points.

As part of the process, sites will have to be prepared for cameras. Even mobile cameras, used from vehicles, will need dedicated sites where they can be safely placed.

It was announced last week that a new team of consultants is to be appointed to help clear the way for the use of private speed cameras. The Department of Justice said that it expected to hire a firm to advise it and oversee the appointment of private operators.