THERE has been a 9% increase in road deaths this year.
According to gardaí and the Road Safety Authority, 60 people have died in 56 fatal accidents up to today, compared with 55 deaths in 48 collisions in the same period last year.
The number of pedestrian fatalities has doubled, from nine to 18.
Now, the two organisations are urging motorists to take care on the roads, ahead of the upcoming bank holiday weekend.
“I am greatly alarmed at the rise in road deaths this year, particularly at the increase in pedestrian deaths," Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross, said today.
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."
Michael Rowland, Director of Road Safety, Driver Education and Research, warned that 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," he said. "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.
Gardai are concerned that 1,153 people have been detected for driving under the influence of an intoxicant, since March 27, despite the Covid-19 lockdown.
And Chief Supt Cleary said: "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.”