Road Safety Authority (RSA) research raised concerns that increased fines for speeding and using mobile phones might not work as many drivers believed they were unlikely to be caught while others were not bothered by a potential doubling of fines.
In research submitted to the Department of Transport, the RSA said there was a perception there were “not enough [gardaí] policing the roads” of Ireland.
This meant many drivers felt they were “unlikely to be apprehended while engaging in traffic offences”, according to the paper.
The research paper was submitted to the department in August, a few months before the department announced fines for 16 road safety offences would be doubled from last October.
The report by the RSA’s research department examined multiple pieces of work from recent years on driver behaviour in Ireland.
They said a major concern was that less than half – or between 35 and 44% – of drivers had said doubling fines would have a positive impact on their driving behaviour.
It said more research was needed on how penalty severity, swiftness of punishment, and likelihood of apprehension would deter offending.
The RSA research also flagged “enforcement perceptions” particularly around the number of gardaí who policed the roads.
It said: “Enforcement is critical to the success of any penalty increases, as deterrence theory posits that people will not change their behaviour unless they believe they are likely to be detected, and then receive a swift and severe punishment.”