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Tuesday 14 August 2018

'Eighty more people will not be around for next Christmas' - RSA chief on tragic road deaths

Predicts high number of deaths on our roads this year

The Garda Traffic Corps and Road Safety Authority have urged drivers to take care on the roads as the August bank holiday approaches
The Garda Traffic Corps and Road Safety Authority have urged drivers to take care on the roads as the August bank holiday approaches

Meadhbh McGrath

Road safety experts have predicted a further 80 people could lose their lives on the roads before the year is out.

Liz O’Donnell, chairperson of the Road Safety Authority, said predictions based on the recent trends suggest a startling number of road deaths in the coming months.

“This week has been a bad week, and this month has been a bad month. 18 people have died on the roads in July, and that’s significant. Compared to this time last year, it’s an 18pc increase,” she told RTE Radio One’s Today with Sean O’Rourke.

Read More: Three more die in early morning crash - 11 now killed on roads since Sunday

“Last year was the second safest year on record for road deaths, this year looks like it’s going to be a bad year.

“We’re doing predictions based on these trends and it looks like 80 more people will die before the end of the year. Eighty more people will not be around for next Christmas.”

She noted that July is typically a bad month for road accidents because of the holiday period, and explained that the “main culprits” have always been speed and alcohol.

“We have to go back to basics – it’s alcohol, it’s speeding, it’s not wearing seatbelts, it’s being distracted by using mobile phones,” she said.

Ms O’Donnell called for better enforcement of traffic legislation, along with more visible road policing.

“We do need more visible garda presence, it is a deterrent for people who are speeding or who are tempted to drink and drive,” she said.

“We need the minister’s support to get more visible road policing and to treat drink driving for the crime it is. It’s a heinous crime.”

Read More: Revealed: Ireland’s worrying new road death figures ahead of Bank Holiday weekend

Heading into the bank holiday weekend, Ms O’Donnell urged motorists to take responsibility when it comes to speeding or drink-driving.

“We need to revisit that original message –you never drink and drive, you never take a lift from someone who has been drinking and I think there’s a huge parental issue,” she said.

She pointed out that many road traffic collisions involve drivers as young as 16, and called on parents to emphasise the importance of road safety over the weekend.

“Parents have a real responsibility over this weekend to make sure their young adult children are using cars safely and not taking risks by drinking and driving, by speeding, by getting distracted by mobile phones or generally messing on the roads.”

She added: “Please take care over this weekend. We’re really hoping more families are not visited by tragedy.”

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