Life Motor News

Friday 20 September 2019

Why another 78 people could lose their lives on the road by the end of this year

Our Road Safety Authority expert analyses the trends that threaten to kill so many more

77 people have died on Irish roads so far this year
77 people have died on Irish roads so far this year

The Road Safety Authority (RSA) and Garda's provisional review of road fatalities for the first half of the year shows that, from January to June 30, a total of 77 people died in 72 fatal collisions.

This is a decrease of 10 deaths and 12 fatal collisions when compared with the same period last year.

While it's good to see a decrease, it's still too high a price to pay for our mobility.

What's more shocking however, is that if the current trend continues, up to 78 more people could die before the end of the year.

Overall, the review by our research section shows that road deaths have decreased by 11pc when compared with figures for the same period last year.

Up to June 30 of this year, 34 drivers, 11 passengers, 16 pedestrians, six motorcyclists and 10 cyclists have been killed.

The really big concern is that cyclist deaths have increased by 100pc.

So far 10 cyclists have died this year, up from five during the same period in 2016. In fact, we have now equalled the total number of cyclists killed for all of last year.

This is particularly concerning. Cyclists are among our most vulnerable road users, yet many drivers do not show enough caution and awareness when sharing the road with cyclists.

Drivers need to pay greater attention to their speed and provide adequate space when passing cyclists.

Likewise, I would urge cyclists to ensure they too are obeying the rules of the road and wearing reflective clothing and helmets at all times.

Statistics from gardai show that arrests for driving under the influence in the first half of the year are up 18pc to 4,450, from 3,787 in 2016.

Each month so far this year there have been more arrests than the corresponding month last year.

April (901) and May (801) of 2017 show the highest arrest levels for at least three years.

While the figures are disheartening, they do signal that the gardai are enforcing our drink-driving laws.

The RSA recently had first-hand experience of the gardai in action on this issue.

We were shooting a new motorcycle safety TV ad in north county Kildare last week and the gardai were assisting us with road closures and traffic management.

During a break in filming a car drove past, arousing the suspicions of the gardai.

It was stopped and the driver was breathalysed and arrested. Of course, we were completely focused on the task of shooting the ad and didn't really give it much thought. Until the Garda twitter account revealed the next day that the driver in question was found to have been uninsured and six times over the drink drive limit.

We were all extremely glad to have the gardai on hand to look out for us while shooting the ad and we owe them a huge debt of gratitude for keeping us safe. They were true professionals.

The incident also raises the issue of vulnerable road workers and the level of risk they are exposed to while working on the road, either for the council, as construction contractors, or the emergency services.

There has been a concerted enforcement effort by the gardai over the first six months of the year, and that is clear from the number of drivers arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

But this trend is also reflected across other road traffic offences too as there has been a 25pc increase in the number of people stopped by the gardai for speeding and non-seatbelt wearing, and mobile phone detections are up 8pc.

Sad to see so many people learning the hard way but, as I said earlier, it is welcome that enforcement is up.

More importantly, if it prevents 78 people dying before the year is out, the increase in enforcement will have shown itself to have been worthwhile.

Irish Independent

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