Monday 10 March 2008

Reckless Driving by Gardaí?

Last Saturday, near Finglas, a child died after being struck by an unmarked
Garda car. I have heard no evidence that the Gardaí did anything wrong but I am concerned by the number of people who are being struck by Garda cars, both marked and unmarked. Is anyone keeping track of these incidents? This is the third that I've heard of in recent months.

It cannot be a surprise that pedestrians are being killed by Garda vehicles. Routinely Garda cars are seen scorching through the streets of Dublin at speeds that are shocking given the number people in the area. For example, last Thursday at around 8pm, I saw a Garda coming screaming along the East side of St Stephen's green. Without slowing, it then swung around sharply into Merrion row in a manoeuvre that should only be seen at a rally. At the time, all pavements were bustling with people.

As far as I know Garda vehicles are exempt from speed limits. In my view this policy should be reviewed for busy areas in cities. Furthermore, some of the driving I have seen is not just excessive in terms of speed - it is downright dangerous driving.

I wonder could the Gardaí provide information on their response times which justifies this kind of behaviour. Some police forces in the US and the UK publish their response times. The Gardaí should do the same. When Gardaí respond to a call, how long does it take them to leave the station? Or if not in the station, is the distribution of Gardaí in the city centre area adequate? In other words, can they justify road behaviour which, on the face of it, seems reckless and which must surely be putting lives at risk.

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