Tuesday 20 February 2018

29 crosses a chilling reminder of danger

Treacy Hogan

THE sight of 29 white, metre-high crosses erected recently on a small stretch of the N4 Dublin-Sligo road chills you to the bone.

Each marks the precise spot where a life was lost in a continuing spiral of deadly crashes over the past 40 years.

It is just one of the many forgotten blackspots etched on the minds of communities all round the country.

The 7km stretch of the N4 between Castlebaldwin and Cloonamahon in Co Sligo, twists and turns, making it dangerously difficult to negotiate, by day or night. Yet it follows one of the most improved roads in the country.

Motorists driving from Dublin to Sligo enjoy a brand new M4 motorway as far as Mullingar, where a dual-carriageway takes over. Then something totally out of place -- a narrow, dangerous country back road. Drivers leaving the dual carriageway are still in 'motorway mode' and find it difficult to slow down to the prevailing lower speed limit.

Motorists spending long periods driving on motorways at 120kmh frequently experience an optical illusion, when the road switches to a normal single-lane carriageway.

While they may reduce their speed to the prevailing 100kmh or 80kmh, the sensation they experience is one of driving at less than 50kmh.

They feel as if they are hardly moving, when in fact they are going very fast, especially for the type of road.

Remaining in "motorway mode" on a normal, single- lane road, can be very dangerous.

"It is an optical illusion. When leaving a motorway at high speed and slowing down to moderate speed, at 80kmh it feels as if you are doing 50kmh. That's why it is critical to obey the speed limit signs," AA spokesman Conor Faughnan said.

At night, this is a lethal situation where local traffic, more used to the treacherous conditions on the 7km stretch, mingle with speeding long-distance drivers travelling between the two cities.

More than 25,000 vehicles use this road daily, many of them speeding and playing Russian roulette with the Castlebaldwin-Cloonamahon 7km killer zone.

The 54-year-old mother of three and popular chef, Karen Mounsey, became the most recent fatal victim when her car was in a crash on the road close to her home in Riverstown.

Sligo county councillors have passed a motion calling for the Castlebaldwin death trap to be made the number one priority for upgrade.

Unfortunately, the National Roads Authority has run out of cash, and the long-standing plea by the N4 Action Group is doomed.

Local campaigner Bernie Mulhern said the crosses would at least serve as a chilling reminder to motorists to exercise caution.

Irish Independent

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