Drivers putting lives in danger by speeding on icy roads
SPEEDING drivers are emerging as the biggest threat to public safety as the big freeze slowly begins to thaw.
Officials yesterday warned people were driving too fast for the icy conditions.
Drivers have been involved in risky overtaking and speeding despite widespread black ice on the country's roads.
"There is ice and frozen snow but with care, great care, it is possible to get around," said the director of the Government's emergency taskforce, Sean Hogan.
"We are concerned about reports of people driving way too fast for the conditions. We encourage people to use public transport."
The Road Safety Authority (RSA) said road conditions were still dangerous because roads remained icy despite looking safe.
"The current conditions are the most dangerous to date because they can catch us off guard," said RSA chief executive Noel Brett.
"I would appeal to all drivers to slow down and keep a safe distance from the vehicle in front. This is especially important on high-speed roads."
An 85-year-old man became the third victim of the sub-zero temperatures yesterday after being found dead near Ballina in Co Mayo.
The man was found at around 2pm near his home at Derryhillagh, and gardai believe he died after he slipped and fell on icy ground a short distance from his home.
Met Eireann said temperatures could fall as low as -10C tonight and tomorrow night, it will remain cold for the rest of the week, and that conditions would be very dangerous.
"Because the ice is not visible it can be more dangerous," forecaster Gerard Fleming said. "The cold will be with us for three or four days yet, but after that will ease out. There will be daytime temperatures of up to 3C and at night, it should be above freezing to help the snow melt."
Public transport services operated for much of yesterday with some diversions, but Dublin Bus stopped all services after 9pm because of the conditions.
The National Roads Authority said there was 28,000 tonnes of salt available to treat roads, which was being mixed with grit to conserve supplies.
Army personnel continued to clear snow off the streets of Meath where the local authority pleaded with people to conserve water.
Road conditions remain dangerous, particularly on the M50 and M1 motorway through Louth. Much of Kildare remains icy, while Monaghan and Cavan roads were described as treacherous. Dublin Bus stopped services at 9pm.
Road conditions improved in Wexford, one of the worst-hit counties, and traffic moved well on the N11. Waterford County Council is to shut off supplies from 9pm to 8am each night to conserve water. Road conditions are improving.
Drivers in Athlone and Mullingar were told to use fog lights where needed. All roads around Castlepollard were very icy. Westmeath County Council urged people to conserve water.
Roads very dangerous around Tullamore, Edenderry and Birr in Offaly. Gardai urged drivers to avoid the Kinnitty-Mountrath road.
Gardai in Cork were forced to deal with an accident every five minutes during the worst of the weekend's weather.
One road outside Fermoy was hit with five accidents in just one hour on Saturday morning, prompting the council to close roads in hilly areas.
Limerick city was foggy and icy and motorists were urged to take extreme care, particularly on the Ennis to Limerick Road.
Clare was very dangerous around the N68 Ennis-Lissycasey road.
Motorists urged not to travel on the N5 in Mayo, while roads in Galway and Roscommon were plagued by black ice.
A gritting lorry was forced off the road after skidding on black ice. Housing estates and lesser-used roads were being likened to skating rinks yesterday.