Ahead of the June Bank Holiday weekend, the Road Safety Authority (RSA) and An Garda Síochána have renewed their appeal for road users to take extra care when using the roads.
Provisional collision figures for 2020 show that there has been a 17% increase in the number of fatal crashes and a 9% increase in road deaths compared to last year. 60 people have been killed in 56 fatal collisions up to the 26 May 2020, compared to 55 deaths in 48 fatal collisions up to 26 May 2019.
Of great concern for both the RSA and Gardai is the doubling in pedestrian deaths this year. 18 pedestrians have been killed this year compared to 9 in 2019.
Ahead of the June bank holiday weekend Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Mr. Shane Ross, said “I am greatly alarmed at the rise in road deaths this year, particularly at the increase in pedestrian deaths. Road safety is a public health issue and the way we all behave on the road determines whether people live, suffer injury or die.
“I am appealing to all road users to please take a closer look at how you behave on the road and to take greater responsibility and practice good road safety habits. This means drivers being alert to danger and slowing down and pedestrians walking on the right-hand side of the road towards oncoming traffic if there are no footpaths.”
Chief Superintendent Paul Cleary, Garda National Roads Policing Unit said, “In light of the increase in road deaths this year, An Garda Síochána will launch a Roads Policing enforcement operation this coming June Bank Holiday weekend. The operation will concentrate on the four ‘Lifesaver’ offences of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, speeding, non-seatbelt wearing and using a mobile phone while driving. Of concern is the number of people arrested so far this year for driving under the influence of an intoxicant; either alcohol or drugs.
“Notwithstanding the recent Covid-19 restrictions with reduced traffic on our roads and the closure of licenced premises, we have still seen 1,153 people detected for driving under the influence of an intoxicant, since the 27th March 2020. In addition, Roads Policing members are still detecting motorists driving in excess of the speed limits, not wearing seatbelts and driving while using mobile phones.
“This bank holiday weekend there will be increased Garda activity and roads policing enforcement; the primary focus of this operation is to save lives and prevent serious collisions. We want people to enjoy this bank holiday weekend as best they can in difficult circumstances, but we also want every road user to act responsibly and stay safe when using the road.”
Number of Fatalities and Fatal Collisions up to 27 May in 2019 and 2020:
Highlighting the risks over the bank holiday, the Director of Road Safety, Driver Education and Research, Mr Michael Rowland, said “With good weather forecast this weekend the roads are going to be busy even with current travel restrictions. As has been the pattern throughout the current health crisis many people will be out walking, jogging and cycling. The lifting of some restrictions in Phase 1 of the government’s road map also means that more people will be driving, for example to garden centres and other locations where outdoor sports have resumed.
“Secondary students are also officially on their summer holidays so you can expect to see more young people walking or cycling on the road. Don’t forget too that it’s a busy time on farms with silage cutting so you will encounter farming machinery on the roads. So, motorists need to slow down and expect the unexpected while walkers and cyclists should be seen and use the road safely.”