Calls to bad driving hotline slump to lowest ever level

The number of calls to the Garda national Traffic Watch phoneline, where motorists can report cases of bad driving, dropped to its lowest ever level last year.

Figures show there were 2,185 incidents recorded last year in the scheme, and a Garda spokesman said they could not say whether anyone was prosecuted as a result of the calls.

That equates to 182 complaints a month, or an average of seven per county each month.

The scheme was used on a pilot basis in the South-East before going national.

However, the numbers of calls being fielded have been falling steadily. In 2007, the phoneline received 6,524 calls; a year later, it received 5,498.

By 2009, it had slipped to 3,927 and continued to fall until it reached last year’s total of 2,185. Anybody who lodges a complaint about the driving behaviour of another motorist is expected to contribute to any follow-up investigation.

In the past, gardaí have said that in the majority of cases, many people who initially complained did not wish to take the matter any further.

A Garda spokesman said: “Not every call would warrant an incident being created — for example, a call from a person complaining about a traffic jam would not be recorded.”

The Garda press office said it could not provide a breakdown of the outcomes from the contacts made to its Traffic Watch office as it would be “a disproportionate use of Garda resources”.

Back in 2006, about 250 reports for Cork, Kerry, and Limerick, were received at Cork City for the first six months of that year — an average of more than 60 calls per month.

At that stage, gardaí said just 1% of complainants were prepared to press ahead with subsequent actions that could ultimately lead to a sanction.

All calls to Traffic Watch are answered and logged by civilian personnel at the Garda Information Services Centre in Castlebar, Co Mayo. The report of the incident is then passed on to a local superintendent for investigation.

It is up to the complainant to decide if they want to pursue the matter further or whether it can be dealt with by way of caution, advice, or guidance. A statement is taken in cases where the complainant wants to take the matter to court.

* Garda Traffic Watch: lo-call 1890 205 805


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