Gardaí believe 'smiley faces' on speed detector signs are just as good, if not even more effective at slowing down drivers than GoSafe vans.
The garda viewpoint is likely to persuade even more communities in Co Cork to invest in the speed detector signs, especially as the county council is offering a deal where they will provide one free for every one purchased. They each cost €2,300 + VAT.
The signs are also mobile, meaning they can be moved to different locations around villages.
Councillors representing the Macroom Municipal District Council wrote to the gardaí asking them to monitor speeding through the mid-Cork village of Carrigadrohid.
Garda Superintendent for the area, Tom Moore, wrote back to the council and forwarded them report on the matter compiled by Roads Policing Unit Sergeant Thomas Lehane.
Sgt Lehane said he conducted both overt and covert speed detection in the Carrigadrohid area and had come to the conclusion that bringing in a GoSafe speed van “would only be of benefit when it is present at the location,” which it could not be all the time.
He said in his opinion the speed-activated 'smiley face' detectors being used by the council are an excellent idea.
“I've seen this in operation near the Blair Inn licensed premises. It appears motorists gravitate to make the sign 'smile', which means their speed is reduced," Sgt Lehane wrote in his report.
He said he had no doubt the addition of such signs in the village would enhance safety.
“The presence of a speed detection van would only enhance safety when present at the location and some motorists may exceed the speed (limit) when the speed van is not present," he added.
Supt Moore said he agreed with Sgt Lehane's appraisal of the situation.
He also said it appears motorists want to make the sign smile and would thus slow down to do so.
Gardaí were contacted after the council's local municipal district officer, Marie O'Leary, wrote to them.
She said that council staff had carried out their own speed survey in Carrigadrohid village and found that speeds of vehicles coming into it from the Macroom side often “far exceeded the speed limit”.
While Ms O'Leary suggested that a GoSafe van might help the situation, she added that the municipal district council was looking at installing a 'smiley face' type detector in the area.