SOME 15 drivers were issued fixed penalty notices at a checkpoint outside of Cork today as gardaí used new technology to instantly detect uninsured or untaxed vehicles.
A further 50 drivers were given 10 days to produce proof of insurance.
The checkpoint took place over two hours this afternoon on the Midleton to Cork road, and used An Garda Síochána’s new Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) technology.
ANPR allows gardaí to identify instantly whether a vehicle is taxed, insured, or has an NCT, or whether there are any outstanding issues relating to the vehicle or its driver.
Two drivers were arrested, one on suspicion of drink driving, one of drug driving, and two learner drivers had vehicles seized for driving unaccompanied.
Chief Superintendent Con Cadogan, who is in charge of the Cork West and North Divisions, said the new system would help make the roads safer and would help save lives.
An Garda Síochána’s new ANPR technology uses rear- and front-facing vehicle-mounted cameras and, utilising Pulse and other systems, can immediately identify by their numberplates vehicles which are uninsured, untaxed, or lacking NCTs or certificates of roadworthiness.
At the checkpoint, 5,500 vehicles were identified upon approach and the vast majority were diverted up the ramp toward the Barryscourt flyover and on about their business, while 450 vehicles identified by ANPR as having potential issues were pulled over for examination.
Some 15 drivers were issued fixed penalty notices for having untaxed vehicles, and approximately 50 drivers were given 10 days to produce proof of insurance.
Three learner drivers were stopped for driving unaccompanied, with one not displaying L-plates, and two vehicles were seized.
A number of other vehicles were also stopped at random, and one driver was arrested on suspicion of drunk driving, and one on suspicion of drug driving.
Some 20 gardaí attended the checkpoint, as well as officials from the Revenue Commissioners, with support from a regiment of the Garda Armed Response Unit.
Tim Willoughby, head of Digital Service and Innovation at An Garda Síochána, said ANPR helped gardaí to keep the roads safe by focussing on non-compliant drivers without discommoding the vast majority of members of public who have paid for tax and insurance and have made sure their vehicles are roadworthy.
Describing the checkpoint as “highly successful”, Chief Supt Cadogan added that Assistant Garda Commissioner David Sheahan, who was in attendance at the checkpoint, had spearheaded the drive to use new technology in road policing, looking at systems used by police forces in the UK and across the EU to ensure that Ireland got the most cutting-edge systems possible.
Assistant Commissioner Sheahan said the new system meant there was now no point in “bluffing” gardaí at checkpoints.
“There was a time when you would stop someone and they would give you an excuse, but now we can use this technology to find out the truth there and then, and now the bluffing is gone out of it,” he said.
“It makes our job so much easier, and it will make the roads so much safer as well.”
Assistant Commissioner Sheahan added that he had wanted to come out on Thursday’s checkpoint to see the new system in action, not least because he retires on Monday one week shy of 39 years on the force.