Local authorities shamed for impeding safety plans
Potential black spots not targeted for alterations and repairs
LOCAL authorities have been named and shamed for delaying a new national system set up to help identify accident black spots.
An investigation by the Irish Independent has established huge variations in the time it takes for reports of serious or fatal road crashes to be submitted to the National Roads Authority (NRA).
Although most local authorities return reports within six weeks of an incident, some are not sending them in for up to 12 months. This means that potential accident black spots are not being quickly targeted for remediation work either by the local authority or the NRA.
The revelation comes as motorists face the worst weather of the winter, with local authorities criticised for being slow to react to snow and ice.
Local authorities who have been described by NRA sources as "slower to engage" with the road collision reporting process include Limerick County Council, Wexford County Council, Wicklow County Council, North Tipperary County Council, South Tippeary County Council, along with Galway County Council.
The importance of timely accident reporting was highlighted by the deaths of four young female NUI Galway students outside Milltown on the Galway-Mayo border last November.
Three months before that, a 45-year-old man had died on the same deadly bend -- known locally "Coyne's Corner" -- in a collision between a car and an oil tanker. An NRA source confirmed it had still not received a report on this August 21 fatality from Galway County Council by December 22 last.
According to information supplied by the Road Safety Authority, there were five serious accidents and one minor accident near the deadly "Coyne's Corner" bend between 1996-2007.
An NRA source made it clear the organisation was not fully satisfied with the way the LA-16 reporting system was working.
"Unfortunately, it's not to the standard we would like. We collectively need to work together and get a more rapid response to incidents," the source said.
The NRA, which has primary responsibility for the country's national roads, was publicly blamed for last November's crash by a parish priest who said the funeral Mass for one of the young women.
Fr Micheal O Braonain, parish priest of Leitir Mor in Connemara, said: "I have no doubt in my mind that if the 8km stretch of road between Ballindine and Tuam was of a standard in keeping with the rest of the roadway from Charlestown to Galway, we would not be grieving the loss of four very special young women."
It is understood the NRA remained silent about the issue of the late return of the LA-16 forms by Galway County Council to avoid adding to the controversy at that sensitive time.
The forms were introduced in October 2007 as part of the Road Safety Strategy. It was designed to speed up the process of reporting serious accidents because it was taking up to two years for the details of 15,000-20,000 road collisions annually to be supplied to the NRA.
An NRA spokesman pointed out that they are dependent on timely information about accident black spots to make budgetary decisions about which are most in need of urgent work.
"The LA-16 form will give the local authority and the NRA an immediate clue as to whether the collision might have been 'road-related', and remedial measures can be identified and carried out without delay," he said.
However, the NRA has praised Mayo County Council, Roscommon County Council and Donegal County Council as being among the "best performers" in submitting the LA-16 accident report forms on time.