Gardaí warn of rise in number of deaths on roads
Medical experts say many now surviving high speed crashes with catastrophic injuries
The Garda Traffic Corps chief said analysis by the force over a long period revealed October and November as the most dangerous months on the roads. Photograph: Eric Luke
Road deaths are set to increase this year after falling to an all-time low as the most dangerous time of the year for road users nears, gardaí and health professionals have warned.
Garda Insp Pat Flynn of the Garda Traffic Corps said analysis by the force over a long period revealed October and November as the most dangerous months on the roads, when bad weather and shorter evenings made for tougher driving conditions.
“So we want to get the message out to motorists to reduce speed, and if you’re on the bike or walking, light yourself up.”
Insp Flynn was speaking at a demonstration in University College Dublin, where the emergency services yesterday simulated a two-vehicle head-on collision and the emergency response, in a bid to raise awareness.
He said pedestrians and cyclists were particularly vulnerable road users and urged them not to use headphones to listen to music when they were on the roads.
In the first nine months of this year, 145 people lost their lives on the roads, 18 more than in the same period last year.
The increase has occurred after falling trends for a decade brought the number of road deaths last year to 162, the lowest since records began in 1961 and half the number of deaths witnessed in 2007.
The downward trend was attributed to the accelerated introduction of penalty points, random drink-driving breath tests and a greater enforcement of road traffic laws as a dedicated Garda Traffic Corps was established and expanded. However, many gardaí now believe reduced levels of Garda overtime means enforcement operations have been scaled back, with driver behaviour beginning to regress.
Speed the killer
At the event in UCD, medical experts said that speed was still the biggest killer. A consultant in emergency medicine in St Vincent’s hospital, Dublin, and clinical lead for emergency medical science at UCD, Dr David Menzies said while cars were safer and more people were surviving crashes than before, this was not all positive news.
“Paradoxically, as the cars become safer they become a little more dangerous and we are still seeing fatalities for pedestrians and cyclists. If you’re walking or cycling and you’re hit by a truck there is no defence. If you fall off the helmet will protect your head but not if somebody hits you.”
Resource manager for the national ambulance service, Richard Shanahan said speed remained the biggest killer.
“You can have fractures, head injuries and internal injuries where your organs can flip because of the energy of the impact. Your liver can turn upside down, it can be cut by a ligament that can cause really severe bleeding.”