Carnage on our motorways as one in five killed is pedestrian
ONE-in-five people killed on motorways is a pedestrian -- and the number losing their lives is rising.
Pedestrians accounted for eight of the 40 deaths on the motorway network between 2005 and 2010, new figures released by the Road Safety Authority (RSA) reveal.
Three have died so far this year.
Some of the fatalities were motorists whose cars broke down and were walking to get help. Others were pedestrians who had arranged a lift at a motorway junction.
RSA chief executive Noel Brett said pedestrians were a "massive risk" on motorways and not only were they a danger to themselves, they were putting other road users in danger.
"The message is clear: never ever walk on a motorway," he said. "Pedestrians are at a massive risk on a motorway -- you're taking your life in your hands and putting other road users in danger, too.
"Likewise, drivers who stop on a motorway can cause collisions involving their own car and potentially many others. It's unsafe and it's an offence."
Mr Brett was speaking at the launch of a new campaign involving An Garda Siochana, the National Roads Authority and the Automobile Association which features a 40-second TV ad running from tonight to raise awareness of safety issues on motorways.
It focuses on lane merging, discipline on three-lane motorways, overtaking and breakdowns and reminds the public never to walk on a motorway.
Chilling images published yesterday also show cars driving in the wrong direction on motorways.
Up to 30 motorists each month are driving the wrong way on a stretch of road in Limerick, and gardai have issued 69 motorists with penalty points for this offence.
Two fatalities last year were caused by drivers going the wrong way on high-speed carriageways.
To help improve driving standards, newly qualified drivers will be forced to take compulsory motorway driving lessons after they pass their test.
The RSA said the lessons would be introduced next year and would involve some 80,000 motorists each year receiving at least two lessons on how to drive on high-speed carriageways where vehicles can legally travel at up to 120kmh.
Learner drivers are banned from using motorways -- but those who, under new proposals, pass their test and move on to restricted 'R' plates for two years will have to take lessons from instructors on how to join a motorway, use lanes properly, give way to merging traffic, keep distance from the vehicle in front and use toll plazas.
Ireland has 5,500km of national road, of which almost 1,200km is motorway.
While motorways are statistically the safest roads on which to drive -- they are 10 times safer than older single-lane roads -- collisions tend to be more serious because vehicles travel at speeds of up to 120kmh.
A car travelling at 120kmh in dry conditions takes 107.5 metres to come to a stop -- the length of a football pitch.
Figures from the RSA show that, since 2005, more than 100 people have been killed or seriously injured after collisions on the motorway network.
Last year, eight people died and 14 were seriously injured -- the worst year since 2007.
A total of six people -- pedestrians and drivers -- have died on motorways so far this year .
The figures also show 40 people were killed on the motorway network since 2005. Most people killed were car users (22), followed by pedestrians (eight), HGV drivers (six), motorcyclists (three) and taxi drivers (one).
Meanwhile, young motorists driving to and from school will be subjected to random spot checks as part of a garda crackdown.
The move comes after several school principals in Limerick expressed concern at the safety of some of the vehicles.