Gardaí vowed to continue crack down on illegally modified cars

Gardaí vowed to continue crack down on illegally modified cars

Gardaí vowed to continue crack down on illegally modified cars

eamonn mcfadden

A unique "multi-agency" approach to tackling illegally modified cars and problem driving will continue a policy of "harsh enforcement" in 2011, a senior garda has warned.

Garda Traffic Corp. Inspector for Donegal, Michael Harrison, says a new multi-agency campaign called "Operation Face" between the Garda, the Road Safety Authority, Customs and Revenue and Department of Social Welfare, will continue their efforts to save lives on our roads.

He says there are new plans in place to "enhance and improve" the campaign which was pioneered in the north west and was launched last August.

Inspector Harrison says last year 19 people lost their lives in the county in ten fatal collisions and they are aiming to reduce this further in the future.

"Although 19 people died, there were only ten fatal collisions, which is one of the lowest number we ever has in Donegal," he stated.

Hard-core areas

He says while Operation Face is being conducted across the region they are specifically targeting "hard-core" areas where dangerous and nuisance driving has been an ongoing problem for road users and local residents.

"There is a certain number of hard-core areas in the county that we have to target. Letterkenny being one of them, north Inishowen being another and north west Donegal is the other. They are the three hard-core areas where you get irresponsible road behaviour. For the people living in those areas, their lives are a misery with the noise up and down the street, such as the residents of Pearse Road. We just have to step up the enforcement and I'm hopeful we will," he added.

To date, Gardai have impounded up to 30 cars in the crack down.

"We operate what is virtually zero tolerance policy. We just do not let any offence go ignored. We didn't ignore anything and that was our instructions, regardless how trivial or how menial they are. The only way these guys will learn is through education and the only way to teach the guys who do not have the life experiences or the education, is through harsh enforcement," Insp. Harrison stated.

He says despite much criticism levelled at the Traffic Corps for this approach, they will continue with their campaign as their mission is to make Donegal's roads safer and reduce roads deaths.

"It is harsh enforcement, people don't like it and they be ringing Highland Radio about us, they give out about it but all we are trying to do save lives and that is it. That's what Operation Face is about, saving the lives of young people in Donegal," he added.

One of the most successful strands of the operation was getting the various agencies, which includes RSA engineers, to travel with the Garda in the evenings and weekends.

The Donegal Traffic Corp. Chief says one example of this approach working was when they targeted a weekend "drifting" event.

"It was a Sunday afternoon and we carried out check points with the engineers and our own PSV Inspectors and we stopped vehicles going to a drifting track. That was our highest amount of seizures. Now the next month we carried out an operation there, all those cars went to the track on the back of a trailer, they were not on the roads, they were taken there safely and they were taken away from it safely and that is the message. Those guys learned through the enforcement that if they are going to drive these illegally modified cars we are going to take them off them," he stated.