Sunday 17 December 2017

Five perish on Irish roads to exceed death-toll target

Mother: Nicola Kenny Photo: Family Handout/PA Wire
Mother: Nicola Kenny Photo: Family Handout/PA Wire
Jim Cusack

Jim Cusack

The Government failed to meet its target for reducing annual road-accident deaths last week, as five died in another week of carnage.

Tragic Nicola Kenny (26) was killed last Monday, just as she received news that her baby daughter, born a day previously, was doing well after being transferred for observation to Temple Street Hospital in Dublin. She was the 124th victim on the roads this year.

The target of 124 roads deaths is the 'maximum' set by the Government as part of its campaign to meet EU targets for reducing deaths on the roads by 2020. The Government established a whole new department, the Road Safety Authority, to meet targets.

The day after Nicola was killed, when the car she was in was hit by an articulated lorry on the M8 motorway, cyclist Donna Fox (30) was the victim of a 'blind-spot' accident in an area of Dublin where local people have been warning for years that such a tragedy would occur.

On Wednesday night, Mr James Joy (62) was killed in Bealkilla, Co Kerry when he was struck by a lorry while crossing a main road at 10.40pm.

In the early hours of yesterday, there were two more fatal accidents about 30 miles apart in Limerick and Tipperary. A man aged his his 30s was killed in a single-car crash at Ardcroney, Tipperary and a man in his 60s was knocked down and killed near the village of Hospital, Co Limerick, on the R513 between Limerick and Mitchelstown - one of the country's worst roads for accidents.

Despite the enormous effort being put into improving the behaviour of drivers, including mass prosecutions by gardai for speeding and other traffic offences, the Government targets for reducing road deaths is proving stubbornly difficult to achieve.

Road engineering and traffic volume are issues that will have to be significantly addressed if accidents like Ms Fox's death in Seville Place, Dublin 1, are to be prevented, local members of the community said yesterday.

Mark Fay, of the North Wall Community Association, said residents have been in fear of raised traffic levels in the area for years since the building of the Samuel Beckett Bridge over the Liffey in 2009.

He said there was strong local opposition to the construction of the bridge because of the obvious increase in traffic volume into a small community that houses four schools and several creches, which open directly onto Seville Place. With the completion of the bridge, Seville Place became the main thoroughfare between Amiens Street and the Liffey Quays.

Mr Fay said local residents were "disgusted" when they were informed that no air-pollution testing had taken place in Seville Place prior to a public hearing of An Bord Pleanala into the building of the bridge. At the hearing, evidence was given that the noise pollution from traffic was narrowly over EU limits.

"We objected, Tony Gregory, who was the TD at the time, objected, as did other figures, including planners and academics who were working in the area at the time.

"What we were concerned about was the transfer of traffic from south of the river across the bridge and the increase in traffic rat-running through Seville Place, which has a young population and, as I say, four schools and creches opening straight onto the main road.

"At the hearing, there was evidence given that no air-pollution testing had taken place about the rise in exhaust fumes from the trucks and extra traffic. We had wanted just public transport to be allowed to use the bridge, but that didn't happen."

Mr Fay said the community was "deeply shocked" by the death of Ms Fox, who was on her way into work in a chemist on the southside of the river.

"From what we know, that poor girl was in the cycle lane heading towards the river and the lorry was turning left to go down Sheriff Street Upper towards the docks. The guards have CCTV of the incident and it would appear she was in the lorry's blind spot."

Ms Fox's fiance, Anne Marie Ryan, said last week that Donna had often spoken of her concerns about the dangers of cycling in the city.

The couple were planning to get married and were living in a mobile home at Ms Fox's father's house in Balbriggan, Co Dublin, while preparing to build their own home.

Sunday Independent

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