Garda need mandatory training on the law regarding motorists endangering cyclists while overtaking, a leading road safety campaigner said after it was reported only 71 offences have been processed in three years.
The call comes from ‘Stayin’ Alive at 1.5′ founder Phil Skelton, who on Tuesday was given an award by the Road Safety Authority for his work in the area of dangerous overtaking of cyclists.
The Irish Times reported this morning that only 71 fines and points have been issued to motorists for overtaking or attempted overtaking which inconvenience or endangered cyclists in the three years since the law was introduced.
There is no distance measurement involved with the law and video evidence is not a requirement of reporting the offence.
Am IrishCycle.com survey last year found that Gardai tried to deter cyclists from reporting 51% of close passing by motorists, even when they had video evidence.
The survey and reports from courts also indicate that Gardai also opt to use different legislation to prosecute dangerous overtaking, including the harder-to-prove careless or dangerous driving offence.
The Garda Press Office confirmed to this website today that the 71 detections include the offences of overtake-inconvenience or endanger a cyclist and an attempt to overtake or endanger a cyclist.
There were 32 offences recorded between November 2019 and December 2020, and 25 for the full year of 2021.
There was also 14 for the year-to-date up to December 12, 2022. This is a provisional figure “liable to change”.
Skelton said the indication of a drop in offences recorded for this year.
“We have certainly not seen any substantial evidence that this road safety issue has alleviated to such a degree as to warrant this decrease, he said.
Skelton said: “The figures for the first year were in like with what I would have seen for Queensland, Australia following their introduction of similar legislation there, but the subsequent years and particularly 2022 is certainly a cause for concern here in Ireland.”
He questioned if COVID-19 and the associated extra workload for Gardaí has taken away some of the momentum and focus, and also how many dangerous overtaking manoeuvres were being prosecuted under didn’t offences.
“Stayin’ Alive at 1.5 called for a mandatory training module for rank and file Gardaí prior to the introduction of this legislation and we have seen no evidence of this to date,” he said.
Skelton added: “We often get reports of Gardaí being unaware of this legislation and that is clearly problematic in terms of specific enforcement and of hit and miss awareness and subsequent and predictable post code lottery situations. We certainly need to see a renewed focus in the New Year.”
The Garda Press Office told Today with Claire Byrne on RTÉ Radio One that the force was working on an online portal for reporting offences with video evidence.