Online portal to upload footage of unsafe driving could take years to implement

A portal for reporting unsafe driving might not be in place until close to the end of the lifetime of this Government, according to a timeline outlined by the head of the Road Safety Authority (RSA).

A similar portal for reporting unsafe driving, such as close passing people on bicycles, has been operating in Wales since 2017 and police forces in most other parts of the UK have since started to accept footage online.

Campaigners welcomed the mention of the portal in the Government’s Road Safety Strategy 2021 – 2030 when it was released late last year, but the strategy states that it will only “explore the potential” of the portal, and this evaluation process will likely need to be followed by a process of legal changes.

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ALSO SEE: IrishCycle.com is currently running a survey looking for cyclists experiences of reporting close passes to the Gardai -- it will be open until Friday, February 4.

When the strategy was launched in mid-December, Sam Waide, CEO of the RSA told RTÉ’s Drivetime radio show that the work on the portal would take four years.

“This is something that road users, in particular, have flagged as a need and a desire. This is to call out poor and dangerous behaviour on our roads, it isn’t a new thing, other European countries have similar systems in place,” said Waide.

“There’s more and more people using the road who have dash cams and dashcam footage is currently being requested and asked for [by the Gardai] where there are collisions,” he said.

Drivetime presenter Cormac Ó hEadhra read out a text message from a listener asking how would the footage be used when there are legal issues around council-run CCTV systems in towns.

Waide said: “Part of the work over the next four years is to see what are the blockages, and, in a legal way, for that information to be used and shared.”

Last week, Limerick City and County Council was fined €110,000 by the Data Protection Commissioner for use of CCTV cameras in a way that was incompatible with data protection rules, including no legal basis or Garda authorisation for the installation of cameras. The result of the investigation was not known last month when the RTÉ interview aired, but the investigation was ongoing.

Yesterday, Brian Farrell, communications manager at the RSA, outlined how currently the new Government Road Safety Strategy states that it will “explore the potential of an online portal for road users to upload footage of road traffic offences which could assist in prosecution.”

He said: “Please note that the date for the delivery of this action, to explore the potential of such a portal, is Quarter 4 2022. An Garda Síochána is the lead agency for this action. Looking beyond this action and time period — once the potential of creating such a portal has been evaluated by An Garda Síochána and, if approved, it would most likely require legislation.”

Farrell added that the timeline for implementation of the portal “will depend on the time it takes to get legislation across the line once the Garda evaluation is finished.”

A petition calling for the Government to implement an online portal has so-far been signed by 560 people. Gerry O Reilly who set up the portal wants it to include reporting of parking offences as well as driving ones.

O Reilly told IrishCycle.com last week: “This could potentially save lives and it can’t be delayed. My closest near pass last night for example was inches from my front wheel and my child on the bike with me.”

He said he set up the petition out of frustration with the lack of enforcement. He said that some people were happy with the increase in fines for parking on footpaths, cycle lanes and bus lanes, planned to come into effect at the start of February, but that enforcement is lacking and “so I thought enough is enough”.

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