A top Cork traffic garda has warned about a rise in deaths of pedestrians and other vulnerable road users, which is bucking an otherwise positive trend for road deaths throughout the county.
So far this year 12 people have died on Cork roads. There were 14 fatalities last year, notably down from the 22 in 2016. While this is good news, Regional Traffic Superintendent Patrick Lehane highlighted one particular area of concern.
“The one issue that stands out is that five of the deaths this year are pedestrians,” he said.
By comparison, there were three pedestrian deaths in Cork in the whole of 2016 and 2017. There have been no cyclist or motorcyclist deaths so far this year but there were nine in the previous two years.
“It is a worrying trend,” he said. “With the clock going back we need pedestrians and other vulnerable road users, including cyclists and motorcyclists, to wear fluorescent clothing and have proper lighting and make sure they can be seen by other road users.
“In particular we are appealing to pedestrians to walk facing the traffic, on the correct side of the road.” The 22 fatalities in 2016 represented the worst year in the last six for Cork, and Supt Lehane hopes the downward trend continues.
“I would put this down to enforcement by ourselves and the RSA, particularly enforcement of the lifesaver offences - that is drink/drug driving, speeding, use of mobile phones and failure to use safety belts,” he said. “They are the focus for our enforcement, which is changing driver behaviour.” He also cited a number of other factors he believes are having a positive impact on the statistics, including education of young people and engineering improvement on our roads.
“All collision data is supplied to the RSA, who share it with the local authorities and Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII),” Mr Lehane said. “We also meet local authority engineers after every fatal collision.The purpose of these meetings is to identify engineering issues that may have contributed to collisions. Where they are identified it allows the local authorities and TII to take remedial action, if possible remove contributory factors.
“Traffic volumes have increased and so if fatalities are reducing that is a positive.” But he warned against complacency and reiterated the need for vigilance among all road users: “We have 12 deaths so far this year and in November and December last year we had two further fatalities so if that trend continues there will be no improvement this year.”