Alarm over 50pc jump in deaths on roads
ROAD deaths have soared by 50pc so far this year, sparking serious concern among senior gardai and road-safety chiefs.
A total of 49 people were killed in the first two-and-a-half months of 2011 -- 15 more than in the same period last year.
This reverses the downward trend that had garnered Ireland praise and awards from international safety agencies.
There has also been an alarming rise in car passenger deaths, mainly in the 16-30 age group.
While gardai say there is no one single factor to blame, they believe road users and parents may have become complacent about the dangers.
Launching a major road-safety drive for the St Patrick's Day period, the Road Safety Authority (RSA) and Assistant Garda Commissioner John Twomey expressed concern yesterday about the increase in fatalities, especially among motorcyclists and young car passengers.
Six motorcyclists have died since the start of the year. In the same period last year, not one biker perished.
And a report carried out by the Garda Traffic Corps shows that one in four deaths occurred in border counties.
The data also shows:
- Deaths among car passengers have risen by 80pc, with nine lives lost, compared with five last year.
- Two-thirds of these were aged between 16 and 30.
- Five motorcycle deaths were in the 26 to 45 age bracket.
- A total of 21 drivers died, compared with 18 last year.
- Of the 49 fatalities total, 38 were male and 11 female.
RSA chief executive Noel Brett said: "It's been a bad start to the year. It is very disappointing."
He urged parents to collect their children from parties and clubs in the early hours of the morning, rather than allowing them to take a lift from a driver who may have consumed alcohol.
Transport Minister Leo Varadkar warned: "If we continue to behave on the roads as we have done in the first two-and-a-half months of this year, we risk undoing all the good work of the last number of years."