Security cameras replace traffic police on motorways

TRAFFIC POLICE will no longer make regular patrols along Portugal’s four main motorways, following the recent installation of a video surveillance centre by Brisa, the entity responsible for the management and maintenance of the country’s highways. Instead, patrol cars will be in place at strategic access points to four motorways: A1 (Lisbon–Porto), A2 (Lisbon–Algarve), A5 (Lisbon–Cascais) and A23 (Torres Novas–Guarda), and will only leave these locations when notified of misdemeanours by the team back at the video surveillance centre.  

The new security scheme is currently in a pilot phase but, should it prove successful, it will be extended to the entire motorway network, allowing considerable savings for the traffic police. “Each patrol car does an average of 495,000 kilometres per year. At the end of this period, it is an old car,” a police source told the Correio da Manhã newspaper.

Since June 7, the traffic police have had five officers at Brisa’s central co-ordination centre in Carcavelos, which boasts a video camera system covering the four motorways already mentioned. These cameras help the police to detect cars breaking the speed limit and dangerous driving, and allows them to record the registration details of the vehicles concerned. The system is also very useful in the case of road accidents, when it is necessary for the emergency services to arrive on the scene as quickly as possible. It is likely that, in little more than a month’s time, the traffic police will completely cease to physically patrol the A1, A2, A5 and A23.

According to Major Lourenço da Silva of the traffic police, the previous rudimentary patrol system, which involved police driving up and down the country’s motorways, never proved to be efficient. “We believe the new system will allow us to be more dynamic and more adequately meet the requirements,” he said.

Thanks to the new system, great savings are set to be made in terms of fuel, maintenance and vehicle costs. The average patrol car, under the present patrol system, does 1,500km per day and 495,000km per year. It is driven 330 days per year and is out of service for 35 days a year for repairs and maintenance. Each patrol vehicle consumes an average of 34,000 litres of petrol per year and its oil needs to be changed around 49 times. The cars also need to be serviced up to 25 times and countless break pads and clutch discs replaced.