Major changes in the way gardaí collect collision data are set to provide the clearest picture ever of the causes behind road deaths.
However, road safety campaigners who sought the changes said they may be left in the dark about their loved ones’ final moments.
From 12am tonight, gardaí will have to record far more detail about the crash scenes they attend and the evidence they gather there. They will also have a mapping process for pinpointing the exact location of collisions, which they say is of key importance for road risk assessments.
The move follows criticism of the decades-old CT68 form that gardaí must complete after attending a serious accident and which forms the only official log of accident details available to the Road Safety Authority.
Despite the overhaul of motoring legislation in recent years, the form, created in 1959, does not record if a mobile phone was in use prior to a crash and does not distinguish between Irish and foreign licences; learner and novice drivers; and whether or not unqualified drivers were accompanied.
Despite cross-party consensus on a Fianna Fáil bill to increase the penalty for hit and run offences, Justice Minister Alan Shatter has admitted neither he nor gardaí can say how many hit and runs there are, as these are not noted on CT68s or recorded elsewhere.
The new system is expected to ensure this data is collected, along with more precise data about the nature of the driver’s journey and if they were disqualified.
In a statement, Garda management said: “The new CT68 form will allow An Garda Síochána to enhance the level and quality of detail associated with every collision which will be of benefit to An Garda Síochána, the Road Safety Authority and other stakeholders, in targeting interventions.”
The move was welcomed by the RSA and by Parc (Promoting Awareness, Responsibility and Care) Road Safety Group, which were consulted on the changes.
RSA spokesman Brian Farrell said: “The system was designed to get crime data in. It wasn’t really designed to get road collision statistics. But the changes now will give us a lot of very useful information.”
Parc chairwoman Susan Gray said. “It’s crucial that as much information as possible is on that form so that it reflects the reality on the ground. The Government use it for policy on road safety so it will educate them as to what changes in law need to be made in future.”
However, Ms Gray said she was disappointed not to have a copy of the form to verify the changes or to have secured assurances it would be reviewed regularly.
She also said Parc would keep campaigning for the right of bereaved families to see the full completed form.
“If there is not enough evidence to direct a prosecution, or if the individual pleads guilty and there is no full hearing, a lot of information is missing,” she said. “Families want to know everything about how their loved one died.”
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