The new Garda mobile safety cameras have been given a cautious welcome with local representatives urging the Government to ensure that it will not turn into a money-making exercise and to invest in the re-alignment of dangerous country roads.
Galway County Independent councillor Seán Canney said although the cameras would deter people from speeding, more needs to be done to eliminate the dangers and to change speed limits in many areas of the county.
These views have been echoed by city councillor and Joint Policing Committee member Terry O’Flaherty who has vowed to seek a report on the initiative, after its first three months in operation, of its effectiveness in saving lives.
On Monday evening the new Garda mobile safety cameras began operating at 518 zones across Ireland. In county Galway 24 sites, located in 19 zones, were selected where fatal collisions have occurred as a result of inappropriate speed. A five-year contract was awarded to Road Safety Operations Ireland, trading as Go Safe, which is to patrol the zones with a fleet of safety camera vans. It is understood that it will be paid a flat fee without penalty-point incentives.
Tuam based Cllr Canney said that the cameras alone will not make some roads safe. “Where those four girls were killed last year [on the N17 between Milltown and Ballindine] the limit is 100kmph. Someone could be driving within the limit but still not be driving safely. The Department of Transport needs to invest in the realignment of roads. Take the danger out and then look at the speed limits. The Minister has said that it is not a money making exercise, well I hope it is a life saving exercise.”
Independent Cllr O’Flaherty said she hoped that the cameras in the city will deter joy riders but added that there must be a “heavy concentration” of the cameras at accident blackspots on the country roads.
“It is a start but it is something that has to be monitored. As a member of the Joint Policing Committee I will be asking for a report in three months time to get an idea of the figures. I hope that it is not a money making exercise, this is not what it was set up for, it is to save lives,” she said.
A map of the locations of the safety cameras throughout Galway city and county is available on www.garda.ie