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New road traffic act means nothing without extra Gardaí to enforce it

21 July, 2006

Sinn Féin Dublin Mid West representative Joanne Spain has criticised the Government's decision to introduce a new road traffic act which gives Gardaí extensive powers to deal with drink-driving and mobile phone use, without increasing the number of Gardaí, in tandem, to enforce the act.

Spain said:

"The number of people dying on our roads from bad driving has increased at a frightening rate in the last few years, despite the introduction of the penalty points system.

"My own constituency of Dublin Mid West is surrounded by three of the busiest roads in the country - the M50, the N4 and the N7. I use these roads every day and regularly see people driving like lunatics, endangering themselves and everyone else around them. People using mobile phones while driving is a pet hate of any responsible person as we are all aware that the act limits your ability to drive carefully.  And there is absolutely no excuse for people drinking and driving.

"With that in mind, I welcome the decision to increase Garda powers to deal with these infringements of the law. However, I fail to see how the small number of Gardaí charged with policing our roads can benefit from new laws while they remain overstretched to such a degree.

"Presently there are roughly 680 personnel in the traffic corps across the state. In a state with over four million inhabitants, a largepercentage of which drive, that number is inadequate. We can demand that people drive responsibly, but we still need a proper policing service on our roads to ensure that those who don't are caught before it is too late.

"It has become the habit of this Government to introduce legislation which effectively produces nothing on the ground. Time will tell if this new road traffic act will be able to produce results by itself, without the help of added gardaí to actually make it work."

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