Road traffic legislation, including the law on driving under the influence of an intoxicant, comes within the remit of my colleague, the Minister for the Environment and Local Government. Enforcement of the traffic legislation is a matter for the Garda Síochána. I am informed by the Garda authorities that they do not consider that there is any lack of resources or limitations in legislation which hinders the enforcement capability of the Garda Síochána.
The House will appreciate that my responsibilities in relation to road safety are mainly in the areas of the provision of Garda resources and Garda traffic law enforcement. In relation to resources, the Garda authorities have sought and have obtained my Department's sanction to purchase a range of equipment, including mobile speed detection equipment, which is used to detect road traffic offences. My Department gives full consideration to all reasonable Garda requests for such equipment. In addition, the requirements of the Garda Síochána in relation to the introduction of penalty points for certain road traffic offences are being taken into account in the development of new Garda computer facilities. I appreciate the importance of this project and it will be progressed as quickly as possible.
In relation to manpower, the Garda national traffic bureau, headed by a chief superintendent and based at Garda headquarters, was established in 1997 to give greater focus and direction to Garda road safety campaigns. There is a traffic unit in every Garda division with special responsibility for traffic law enforcement. These are full time and dedicated to traffic issues, unless required to get involved in emergency duties. The number of traffic units is now 29, up from 16 in 1996. Two additional units are to be established in the near future in Carlow and Cavan. In 1996 there were 40 sergeants and 272 gardaí dedicated full time to traffic. In 2001, the total is 58 sergeants and 369 gardaí. In addition, all uniformed gardaí throughout the State are involved in traffic law enforcement as required.