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Revealed: The worst time and place for crashes on the M50

Newly released statistics show most dangerous times to travel correspond with heavy commuter traffic periods


The scene of a crash on the M50. Photo: Dublin Fire Brigade/Twitter

The scene of a crash on the M50. Photo: Dublin Fire Brigade/Twitter

The scene of a crash on the M50. Photo: Dublin Fire Brigade/Twitter

Driving on the M50 near Lucan and Liffey Valley in Dublin between 4pm and 5pm is when you are most likely to be involved in a crash, an analysis of latest accident statistics has revealed.

This year, from January 1 to August 31, there were 1,088 incidents on the M50 of which 399 were collisions. That works out at 50 crashes a month.

An examination of a sample of nearly 200 accidents on the M50 this year has revealed that 60pc of accidents occurred on the stretch of motorway between Junctions 5 (Finglas) and 9 (Red Cow), followed by Junctions 3 (M1/M50) to 5 (Finglas) at 20pc, and Junctions 9 (Red Cow) to 13 (Sandyford) at 15pc.

But the biggest concentration of crashes between the Juntion 5 and Junction 9 hotspot was around Junction 7 at Lucan and Liffey Valley, at 18pc.

Junction 13 (Dundrum) to Junction 16 (Cherrywood) had the least number of collisions, at around 2pc.

The sample of crashes between January and August also revealed that rush hour between 4pm and 5pm, had seen the highest number of collisions, followed by the hour between 3pm and 4pm.

Between 8am and 9am, and 5pm and 6pm, were the next most likely times for accidents to occur, and there was also a spike in numbers during lunchtime, between 1pm and 2pm.

The most dangerous times to travel corresponded with when most commuter traffic is typically on the road; in the mornings as people go to work, at lunchtime as more people are on the move again, and in the evening, as people go home.

Rear-end collisions – where drivers fail to stop in time when the vehicle in front of them stops or slows down – made up the vast majority of crashes on the M50 so far this year, with 260 incidents recorded.

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Some of these rear-end crashes might also be attributed to vehicles colliding with another vehicle after a driver made a sudden lane change.

The figures show there were 33 side-impact collisions. These can happen during lane changes without proper observation and when traffic is moving onto or off the motorway at a junction ramp.

Recovery operators also removed 1,977 vehicles which had broken down on the M50 during the same period - an average of nearly 250 vehicles a month.

“The overall impact of a traffic accident which cause traffic delays is varied due to the severity of the incident and seasonality of the traffic levels, day of the week or the time of day,” said Sean O’Neill of Transport Infrastructure Ireland, the state agency in Ireland dealing with road and public transport infrastructure.

“A serious incident, such as a potential loss of life, can close the M50 either northbound or southbound, as the emergency services deal with the incident, and an alternative emergency bypass through local road network may be required to get traffic around that section of the M50.”

In one of this year’s most tragic road accidents, two motorcyclists died after they crashed together and were then hit by a truck that was travelling behind them.

The crash happened on June 3 at 1.45pm northbound between Junctions 7 and 9 in the middle lane.

The two men were friends, aged in their 50s and 60s, visiting from the UK to tour Ireland.

Brian McFarlane and Paul Ingram had toured the Wild Atlantic Way and were on the way to the ferry terminal when the incident happened.

Dublin Fire Brigade, gardaí and an ambulance all responded to the scene and all lanes were closed and a number of diversions put in place. It was 8.50pm before the motorway reopened.

So far this year this has been the only fatal collision on the M50, along with two serious injury collisions and 30 non-serious collisions on the motorway.

Last year gardaí reported no fatal collisions, 11 serious injury collisions, and 46 non-serious collisions on the M50.

In total last year, there were 1,335 incidents on the M50, of which 475 were traffic collisions and this was during a period when traffic volumes were still recovering from the early phases of the pandemic. It means that this year’s incident and collision numbers will likely be higher than those of the most recent comparable years.

In 2020, despite strict Covid restrictions and rolling lockdowns, there were two fatal collisions, five serious injury collisions and 27 non-serious collisions.

By comparison, 2019 had a high collision rate, with three fatal crashes, five serious crashes and 58 non-serious injury collisions.

In 2019, the year before the pandemic hit, there were 440,000 individual trips made daily on the M50 – an increase on the 420,000 trips made in 2018.

On the busiest section, between Junctions 7 (Galway road) and 9 (Red Cow), weekday traffic volumes exceeded 160,000 vehicles per day.

There was a total of 1,161 incidents, of which 525 were traffic collisions. The hour between 6pm and 7pm was peak time for incidents at the time.

This number of incidents almost matched those of 2018 (1,164).

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