Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 3 September 2014

Garda 'dealing with' traffic issues

Road Safety Authority chairman Gay Byrne said dwindling Garda numbers has resulted in an upturn in people taking chances on the roads again

Ireland's top traffic garda has insisted he has the manpower to fight dangerous driving on the country's roads.

Assistant Commissioner Gerald Phillips, who heads up the Garda Traffic Corps, said numbers within his own ranks were down in recent years but that this had no impact on enforcement.

He added: "We have the resources and we are dealing with it. Nobody will ever say you don't need any more officers. We have been dealt a hand, we are working to the full potential with that hand."

Mr Phillips was responding to claims over the weekend by road safety tsar Gay Byrne that dwindling Garda numbers has resulted in an upturn in people taking chances on the roads again.

The senior-ranking officer said the figures for road offence detections did not reflect a drop in Traffic Corps numbers, from more than 1,200 to 854.

Speaking at the launch of a new road safety initiative targeting tourists, Mr Phillips said it was not just the Traffic Corps that was manning the roads, but other regular units within the force too.

The tourist initiative will see road safety manuals, printed in eight different languages, placed in every one of the country's estimated 18,000 rental cars this summer.

Noel Brett , chief executive of the Road Safety Authority (RSA), said it was part of a campaign to reduce the number of tourists involved in accidents. There were 22 visitors to Ireland killed on the roads over the last four and half years, around five a year. A further 34 were seriously injured in car crashes.

Mr Brett said billboards at airports and ports, as well as messages online and in the press will target tourists driving, cycling and walking in Ireland while also asking Irish drivers to be forgiving and helpful to visitors on the roads.

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