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Thursday 27 April 2017

Safety plea to pedestrians as seven are killed in three weeks

RSA chairperson Liz O’Donnell. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
RSA chairperson Liz O’Donnell. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Luke Byrne

Luke Byrne

Road safety chiefs have urged pedestrians to make themselves more visible in the aftermath of a seventh person dying after being struck by a car while walking.

The country's latest road victim, who was named locally as Wayne O'Neill (38), was knocked down near his home while walking on the N78 at Clonbrock, Crettyard, Co Laois, near the border with Co Kilkenny.

Mr O'Neill is the seventh pedestrian to be killed in just three weeks.

Just after 10pm on Saturday, a car being driven by a 24-year-old woman was involved in a collision with Mr O'Neill.

The crash site was around 10km from Ballylinan and the road was closed to facilitate a forensic collision examination.

The victim was pronounced dead at the scene and his body was removed to the mortuary at Portlaoise Hospital.

It is understood the woman who was driving the car was uninjured in the collision.

Read more: Comment - Time to heed RSA's high-vis message as pedestrian death toll on our roads rises

Gardaí have launched an investigation into the accident and have appealed for any witness to the incident, or who may have been on the stretch of road form 9.50pm to 10.40pm, to contact them at Abbeyleix garda station on 057 873 0580.

There have been 11 fatalities on the road since the beginning of the year. Of those, seven have been pedestrians.

A spokesman for the Road Safety Authority (RSA) urged pedestrians to make sure they could be seen while walking on the roads, and for drivers to slow down.

"Even at 50kmph, it is the toss of a coin whether a pedestrian lives or dies after being hit.

"We are concerned about the number of pedestrian deaths so far this year. We would like to use this opportunity to remind pedestrians to make sure they are visible while out on the roads," he said.

Yesterday, it emerged that the RSA had sent a letter to Transport Minister Shane Ross, warning about risks to its plan to reduce road deaths to 124 by 2020.

The 'Sunday Independent' revealed how the safety body expressed "serious concern" in relation to the implementation of the almost €40m plan, according to a letter from chairperson Liz O'Donnell to Mr Ross.

Last July, the RSA launched a five-year corporate plan, to reduce road deaths by 25pc to 124 by the end of the decade.

But three months later Ms O'Donnell wrote to Mr Ross to warn that the absence of "essential skills" was of concern and that it would be "remiss" of her not to advise him.

Meanwhile, brave mum Carmel Cusack, from Castlebar, Co Mayo, who lost her 18-year-old daughter Melissa Patterson when she was hit by a car while out walking in July 2015, has spoken out about her pain.

Ms Cusack said she keeps the blue jumper her daughter was wearing, and her teddy, with her. "I can't part with them," she said.

"I would urge motorists to be more vigilant of pedestrians," she said, speaking on RTÉ Radio One's 'Marian Finucane Show' on Saturday.

Her twin sister Belinda Patterson also spoke on the programme about how she gave up football after her Melissa's death.

Irish Independent

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