As the focus of the world turns on Ireland and its financial problems, van drivers from the UK, doing their daily runs to the Emerald Isle will be focussing on something entirely different.
probably directly linked to the financial straitjacket Ireland finds itself in, is the decision to release private speed vans on to the roads of the republic. As from yesterday for the first time in its history the Irish police force (The Garda) have relinquished control of speed enforcement cameras and passed them over to a private firm, Gosafe.
The company sent a small detachment of its force out onto the roads yesterday, but by February 2011 will have 45 vans checking the speeds of Ireland’s motorists in up to 600 different locations. The contract, which is said to be worth over £50 million, demands the private speed check vans operate for at least 6,000 hours per month, and it is anticipated that around 10% of that time may be focused on the capital Dublin, where motorists are notorious for breaking the speed limit.
The company have already played their part in public relations by creating a website which will inform van drivers and other motorists exactly where the cameras will be placed on a given day. Perhaps the level of concern the cameras present for many Irish motorists is proven by the fact that the website on its first day of operation crashed due to the amount of users.
Motorists caught flouting the speed restrictions by the cameras will be fined and have points penalties imposed in the usual way, as the Garda will administer the whole legal side of the operation. Although the government are keen to dispel the notion that the cameras will be used to procure revenue for the desperately under financed administration, experts reckon the cameras could bring in cash to the tune of £35 million per year.
With a standard fine of 80 Euros which converts to around £70, one can see why Irish motorists are concerned with the number of cameras due to be out on the roads. It is anticipated that many van drivers in particular, will be looking to make savings on ancillary costs such as commercial vehicle insurance to provide savings just in case they fall foul of the speed traps.