Tuesday, 13 November 2001
Dáil Eireann Debate
423. Mr. C. Lenihan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he has satisfied himself with the adequacy and effectiveness of the existing arrangements for the inspection of road haulage vehicles to ensure their compliance with the relevant provisions of the Transport and Traffic Acts; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27781/01]
454. Mr. C. Lenihan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the measures which are taken by the Garda Síochána to prevent vehicle operators who transport clay, rubble and other materials for gain in the construction and other industries from carrying other loads of cargoes which require the possession of a haulage licence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27787/01]
455. Mr. C. Lenihan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if, in the interests of ensuring road safety and general compliance with the law and good practice in the haulage industry, he plans to increase the manpower resources available to the Garda transport units with responsibility for overseeing and investigating such matters; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27789/01]
456. Mr. C. Lenihan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of prosecutions brought and the number of convictions obtained in each of the past five years for breaches of the law relating to speed limits and vehicle gross weights in the construction, forestry and other haulage industries; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27790/01]
457. Mr. C. Lenihan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his plans to instruct the Garda Síochána to tackle widespread breaches of the law relating to speed limits and vehicle gross weights in the construction, forestry and other industries; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27791/01]
Legislation in the area of road haulage and general traffic matters is a matter for the Department of Public Enterprise and the Department of the Environment and Local Government. Enforcement is a matter for the Garda and transport officers employed by the Department of Public Enterprise.
The Department of Public Enterprise is responsible for the enforcement of road haulage licensing and tachograph legislation as it applies to heavy goods vehicles. In relation to the issue of the adequacy and effectiveness of the existing arrangements for the inspection of road haulage vehicles, a number of measures are included in the programme of action for the road haulage industry. This programme was published by my colleague, the Minister of State at the Department of Public Enterprise, Deputy Jacob, in February of this year.
Under the programme, I understand that arrangements are being made to increase the number of enforcement officers and support staff in the road haulage division of the Department of Public Enterprise by 50%. I also understand that the level of enforcement checks by the Department of Public Enterprise officers has been stepped up significantly and a targeted blitz of certain areas and industries is under way.
In relation to Garda action in relation to illegal haulage work, I am informed by the Garda authorities that gardaí are active in enforcing the relevant legislation. Operation Overload is a special Garda enforcement operation conducted as part of the Garda national road safety initiative, 2001.
Heavy goods vehicles and works vehicles using the public roads are the primary focus of Operation Overload. Enforcement during the period of these operations relate to vehicle and load dimensions, weights and condition of the vehicle, the use of off road dumpers and other works vehicles, tachograph regulations as well as the licensing of vehicles for haulage purposes. These national operations are supported by local road safety strategies which also target specific road haulage issues. I should also state that the Garda co-operates in joint campaigns with other agencies such as the Revenue Commissioners, and Department of Public Enterprise transport  officers in enforcement of the laws relating to heavy goods vehicles.
Garda anti-speeding campaigns also include speeding by heavy goods vehicles. However, Garda statistics for speeding offences do not differentiate between classes of vehicle. I am further informed by the Garda authorities that statistics in relation to prosecutions brought and the number of convictions obtained for breaches of the law in relation to speed limits and vehicle gross weights are not maintained in such a way to readily break them down into those which involve the construction, forestry or other haulage industries.
Details in relation to Garda prosecutions for some breaches of the law in relation to road haulage are set out in the Annual Report of the Garda Síochána, copies of which are available in the Oireachtas Library. The latest report is in respect of 1999.
In relation to Garda enforcement personnel, the Deputy will be aware that the deployment of Garda resources is a matter for the Commissioner. Garda divisional traffic units and local personnel are involved in the enforcement of road traffic and transportation legislation on an ongoing basis.
Garda enforcement activities are intelligence led and focus primarily on areas of high incidence of danger and offending, with appropriate Garda resources allocated to the task. Traffic law enforcement, including the laws in relation to heavy goods vehicles, will continue to be given a high priority for the remainder of this year and on into 2002.
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