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Road safety chief wants gardaí to be given mobile devices to detect unqualified drivers on the roadside

On World Day of Remembrance for Road Victims, Minister for Transport Shane Ross had a strong message for drink drivers.

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Updated Nov 18th 2018, 3:40 PM

THE CHIEF EXECUTIVE of the Road Safety Authority has said it will be essential for gardaí to be able to have mobile access to a national database that will inform officers if a driver is unqualified or has a suspended licence at the roadside.

Moyagh Murdock said that having to wait to return to the garda station or asking someone to produce their licence at a station is “not an effective or an intelligent way to police the roads”, and that equipping gardaí with this “real time” facility would help to police the roads more effectively. 

She was speaking to RTÉ’s This Week programme as today marks World Day of Remembrance for Road Victims.

A number of events have taken place around the country to mark the day, and further information can be found here

So far in Ireland this year, 130 people have died on the roads meaning that since records began in 1959, a total of 24,255 people have died on Irish roads.

In 2017, 158 people died in road traffic incidents. Despite close to one person dying every two days on the roads last year, 2017 was the safest year on Ireland’s roads since 1959.

Murdock said it was a fact that many on the roads were unqualified, had a suspended licence or have never had any kind of training on the roads.

“People who engage in that type of behaviour are generally non-compliant in all other areas of road safety,” he said.

Gardaí will soon get the ability to check if a driver has insurance on the go using a mobile device, but this ability to verify information should stretch beyond that according to the RSA chief executive.

“The challenge now is to get the commitment and resourcing to roll out hand-held devices to the full traffic core and gardaí in general,” she said. “All of them need that to be effective.”

In a statement marking the day, Minister for Transport Shane Ross said  that it’s “quite frankly unforgivable” to think it’s worth taking a risk and driving while over the legal alcohol limit.

While the overall trends are going downwards, Ross said that the numbers killed on the roads is still unacceptable.

“Year after year, the same messages go out,” he said. “And yet every year people are killed or maimed on our roads.”

Recent figures show 50,000 drivers were caught on their phones, while new changes to drink driving laws have introduced a zero tolerance policy on those caught over the limit who are now banned from driving for three months.

Ross said: “This bill will save lives. There is no disputing that. And yet there is still resistance to it. Still people who think an extra pint is worth risking a life and who are not shy about expressing this view – even to those who have lost loved ones to drunk drivers.

Today therefore, it is fitting that we honour the extraordinary bravery and heroism of those victims groups who worked so hard to get this bill over the line. Their selflessness and dedication as they try to ensure that others are spared the grief that they suffer, is awe-inspiring. Today, please spare a moment to think of them and the loved ones they have lost.

About the author:

Sean Murray

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