All Garda to enforce traffic laws

New regulations will require all Gardai, not just the Traffic Corps, to police the roads.

New regulations, about to come into force in An Garda Siochana, will reverse two decades of roads policing being only down to specific traffic corps units. Instead, from now on, all Gardai will be required to carry out at least 30 minutes worth of road policing per shift.

More people killed on Irish roads

The move comes against a background of rising road deaths in Ireland, with 63 fatalities on Irish roads this year, an increase of 15 on 2023.

The Traffic Corps, sometimes referred to as the roads policing unit, will not be disbanded, however. In fact, Garda Headquarters has said that the unit’s numbers are expected to increase by 75 this year.

Less reliance on cameras

It can surely only be welcome news that more Gardai will be assigned to roads policing, as that will hopefully mean a reduction in the blunt-instrument use of traffic and speed cameras and more human eyeballs on what’s actually happening on the road. In general, having trained officers actually observing traffic and conditions is a far more effective piece of road safety activity than merely handing out fines for straying over the speed limit on a motorway, for example.

Increased Garda visibility

Liz O’Donnell, chairperson of the Road Safety Authority (RSA), said: “Enforcement is key to tackling this problem and I warmly welcome this response to my call for more Gardaí deployed immediately to road safety. This will result in increased Garda visibility on our roads and acts as a deterrent to dangerous drivers. This deployment can save lives.

“Speeding and acceptability of speeding have been consistently high since 2020 and have yet to return to pre-Covid levels, while the social acceptability of drink-driving has also increased post-Covid. There needs to be a significant step change in order to get back to normal levels of compliance and I look forward to discussing these matters with An Taoiseach and senior ministers on Monday of next week.”

The RSA says that it has “intensified its activities through increased high-impact campaigns; broadened its audience reach through new social media activities; rolled out road safety innovation initiatives; revised our education programme to reach more second level and college students; and delivered ground-breaking research that addresses key road safety issues.”

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Published on April 13, 2024