'Staggered speed limits could save lives in Wexford'
A SENIOR Wexford garda has said staggering the speed limits on some busy roads in County Wexford could lead to a reduction in speeding detections and safer driving conditions on our roads.
Chief Superintendent John Roche said speeding is the number one cause of road fatalities in the county.
'We had seven fatalities last year and nine the year before. People often ask why there are speed vans in certain areas but they're there for a reason. There's often one outside Clonroche but that's because there was a cyclist killed there.'
Supt Roche said: 'Maybe if the speed limit went from 100 to 80 and then to 60. It could be looked at.'
He said vans are only placed in areas where there have been accidents, adding that most of the 9,664 detections made last year were on primary routes. Gardaí using speed detection guns and Garda car technology caught 870 people speeding last year, while GoSafe vans and Garda vans detected 8,794 motorists.
'I don't want to say we don't have hotspots. The N25 near Ballinaboola, the old Dublin Road, the Newline Road towards Arthurstown and the N11 to Rosslare and the N11 up are all busy for detections.'
Supt Roche said if a speed van is put on any busy road it will detect more than 70 vehicles on any given day.
He said he has contacted the Road Safety Authority and the Garda Traffic Policy Bureau recommending that certain GoSafe vans be removed from a number of locations in the county as there hadn't been any significant accidents there.
'I asked does their detection rate justify putting speed vans there when there are roads with higher levels of speeding that need more attention.'
Such changes can take some time to be implemented but Supt Roche said all of the vans are now located at places where accidents have occurred.
'We've researched it and we also follow up on letters of complaint about traffic close to schools and in certain rural parts of the county. There are roads governed by an 80 km/h speed limit that people are still inclined to take a chance on and they go over the 80 km/h limit. The vans aren't there by coincidence; its due to the number of accidents at the various locations.'
The Ferrycarrig stretch is one of a number of locations in the county where the speed limit suddenly drops from 100 km/h to 60 km/h and this has lead to a high number of detections there on a weekly basis.
Supt Roche mentioned the situation to a senior engineer at Wexford County Council who is looking at how to make traffic flow safer there.
'If you put a van at Ferrycarrig I guarantee you there will be 70 detections,' he said, adding that the cost of putting a roundabout at Ferrycarrig has been deemed prohibitive so the only other option would be for traffic to be directed up to the Wexford roundabout and back onto the N11.
'60 km/h is still dangerous; we just have to slow traffic going through there; if a vehicle's going through there at between 80 km/h and 100 km/h there will be bad traffic accidents.'
Supt Roche said the phenomenon of speed racers tearing up our roads has all but disappeared but speeding is very much a feature of life in the county.
He said gardaí allow a little leeway and don't go after people who drive only fractionally above the speed limit.
'Considering we have thousands of kilometres of road in the county and with the increase in population here during the summer months, the average speed of traffic has reduced due to the introduction of penalty points. I have to pay compliments to the public for that.'