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Gardaí to use undercover lorry to see into cars and HGVs and film distracted drivers

Gardaí will use higher vantage point of unmarked HGV cab to observe drivers’ behaviour in their cars

An undercover heavy goods vehicle cab, operated by roads-policing gardaí, is to be deployed on Irish roads in the coming weeks to catch distracted drivers.

The deployment of the vehicle, known as a “supercab”, is one of several initiatives being rolled out by An Garda Síochána in an attempt to lower the rate of road fatalities, which are at their highest in decade. More than 60 people have died on Irish roads so far this year.

Under the new initiative, gardaí from the Roads Policing Unit, will operate an unmarked truck cab of the type used to pull heavy goods vehicles. From their higher vantage point, gardaí will be able to see into cars to check for mobile phone use, a lack of seat belt or other signs of distracted driving.

They will also be able to see into the cabs of other trucks, something gardaí in patrol cars are generally unable to do. Any suspected offences will be filmed by the garda operators, sources said.

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The new tactic is being introduced as gardaí believe many people are using their mobiles or other electronic devices, while holding them in their lap so as to avoid being spotted.

Other initiatives rolled out by Garda management recently include mandating every garda to devote 30 minutes of their shift to road policing

If gardaí operating the truck spot someone driving carelessly or while using a device, they will not pull them over themselves. Instead, the truck will work alongside an “interceptor” patrol car which will be directed to pull the suspect over.

Speaking to the Oireachtas Transport Committee last week, Commissioner Drew Harris said the vehicle will be rolled out in the “next few weeks”.

It is understood the exact operating procedures are still being worked out. A garda spokesman said additional details will be released in due course.

The Garda began work on the new programme after researching similar initiatives in the UK where several police forces have deployed HGV cabs to catch distracted drivers.

UK police have been using undercover trucks, which they call “supercabs” since 2015. Unlike other heavy goods vehicles, the trucks are not speed-restricted. Although they do not have police markings, they are fitted with flashing lights for emergencies.

Other initiatives rolled out by Garda management recently include mandating every garda to devote 30 minutes of their shift to road policing, something the Garda Representative Association has dismissed as a PR exercise.

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