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Someone lying about their insurance or licence at a garda checkpoint? There's an app for that

The app has been in a trial period for a number of months

Garda from the National Road Policing unit Mark Murphy holds a mobile phone during a the Road Safety Authority (RSA) as they publish a road safety progress review.
Garda from the National Road Policing unit Mark Murphy holds a mobile phone during a the Road Safety Authority (RSA) as they publish a road safety progress review.
Image: Leah Farrell via RollingNews.ie

A NEW GARDA app designed to help officers check motorists at the roadside is to be rolled out by the end of the year, according to Assistant Commissioner David Sheahan. 

The app has been in a trial period for a number of months. Around 50 gardaí based in Limerick have been using the system which allows them to access their email on the move and check a vehicle’s history and tax status.

Despite a number of false dawns, Sheehan said he expects 2,000 devices to be distributed around the country by the end of the year. The devices, or mobile data centres as they are officially known, had to be created to protect from data breaches if, for example, a garda lost one of the devices or it was stolen. 

Asked about delays in rolling out the system, Sheehan said that gardaí had to make sure that the platform on which the app was to run was fit for purpose and complied with international standards for safe encryption and data protection. 

How the app works

Gardaí will pull in a vehicle as usual but instead of radioing back to base for details regarding the owner and their particulars, the officer will be able to input their name and registration into the app. 

The app will inform the officer if the motorist is fully-licenced and authorised to drive the vehicle. It will also tell the garda if tax and NCT are up to date and if there are any warning associated with the vehicle.

Sheehan said that the new app will “put an end to roadside bluffing” and told the press this morning a number of anecdotes where motorists have seen officers using the device and preemptively told them they were uninsured/untaxed or not authorised to drive. 

The application will also allow gardaí to issue fixed charge penalty notices (FCPNs) on the spot instead of going through a system which could take weeks to issue the fine. 

Despite the optimism about the app, some garda bodies feel that the 2,000 devices promised does not go near what should be done. 

Liz O’Donnell, Chairperson of the Road Safety Authority, said the app has the potential to revolutionise roadside policing.

She said: “The roll out of the mobility project to front line Gardaí needs to be accelerated in order to respond to the increase in deaths in 2019. This mobile phone technology will revolutionise road safety enforcement as it will give Gardaí at the roadside access to critical information such as driver disqualifications, insurance and NCT compliance.

“We see it as the most important development in enforcement since the introduction of the roadside breathalyser test. I would call on the Commissioner to ensure that the roll out is accelerated.”

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