Gridlock relief for motorists as 30,000 cars gone
MOTORISTS are set to be spared the traditional back-to-school gridlock for the first time in years. Almost 30,000 cars and trucks have vanished from Irish roads in the past year, due to the recession.
As the September traffic blues get under way, motoring organisations are predicting that traffic jams might not be as crippling as in previous years.
Motorists are increasingly holding on to their older cars, instead of trading them in for new models, and fewer cars are on the roads, according to the Department of Transport's Bulletin of Vehicle and Driver Statistics 2009.
According to the report, which was published yesterday, there is an increasing trend for motorists to import used cars from the North and Britain.
A total of 76,264 vehicles were licensed for the first time last year. The total number of licensed vehicles -- 2,467,660 -- represents a drop of 29,908.
This is the first decrease since 1982 and cars account for most of the reduction.
The number of goods vehicles fell by 7,367 as the downturn continued, a drop of 2.1pc.
More than 70pc of private cars are now four years old and over, while 53pc are six years old and over. The number of new private cars being licensed is down 63pc and goods vehicles are down by 68pc.
The report also showed that 286,115 drivers are on learner permits, a reduction of 33,712 on the previous year.
For the first time, 142,548 cars were licensed based on their CO2 emissions.
Nicola Hudson, AA Roadwatch traffic controller, said car traffic had fallen by four per cent in the past two years. This was most noticeable in the volume of trucks, which are down by almost 13pc since 2008.
Very significant infrastructural improvements had also come on line in recent months, said Ms Hudson. Ireland now has 738km of motorway and 188km of that opened in 2010.
"More important than the length of motorway is the elimination of key bottlenecks and the completion of inter-urban connections," she said.
One of the most significant changes will be the completion of the M50 upgrade, which is due tomorrow with the opening of the last parts of the M50-N3 Blanchardstown interchange.
"This means that the busiest interchanges on the M50 -- the N4, N7 (Red Cow) and N3 Blanchardstown junctions -- will all now be free-flowing" said Ms Hudson.
The M50 now has three lanes at its busiest locations. While traffic volumes are rising, she said, the motorway was better able to cope.
Ms Hudson added: "We are not saying that Ireland will be free of traffic jams, but the pattern will be different.
"Established 'stars' of AA Roadwatch bulletins, like the Red Cow roundabout or the Dock Road, will seldom be heard any longer.
"However, we remain very vulnerable to traffic incidents and bad weather."
AA Roadwatch is predicting that when the weather worsens, the major routes into Dublin and other cities will still be vulnerable.
Incidents such as a truck jack-knifing or a minor collision can delay several thousand vehicles in the space of minutes.