Numbers killed on roads starting to rise again

Garda warns errant motorists they have to be lucky ’all the time’ to avoid detection

Checking traffic at a checkpoint. Photograph:  Frank Miller

Checking traffic at a checkpoint. Photograph: Frank Miller

Tue, Aug 13, 2013, 01:00



The Garda has warned motorists who break crucial rules on speeding, seat belt use and alcohol they “have to be lucky all the time”, adding that the force was “out there as much as ever”.

The warnings came as statistics revealed that up to yesterday 119 people lost their lives on the State’s roads since the start of the year.

The numbers were seven ahead of the similar period last year – a year which saw the seventh, successive annual reduction in road fatalities, from almost 400 in 2005 to a record low of 162 last year.

Responding to concern that there appeared to be a perception that enforcement was now declining due to cuts in staff numbers and budgets, the Garda said a reduction in numbers of officers in the Road Traffic Bureau from 1,200 to just 800 in recent years had not been matched by a corresponding rise in road deaths.

According to the Garda, the most common issue across fatal crashes is still speeding.

Chief Supt Michael O’Sullivan of the Garda National Traffic Bureau said the perception was that alcohol was a factor in most road deaths.

Speed
But he said members of the force – who were frequently “first on the scene to literally pick up the pieces after a crash” – could testify that the most common denominator was speed.

He also said 13 per cent of those killed last year were not wearing a seat belt.

In addition some 17 of those killed so far this year were motorcyclists who sometimes were not seen by drivers of other vehicles.

Alcohol checkpoints
While there appears to be a slight reduction in the number of mandatory alcohol checkpoints, which had been rising annually to almost 72,000 in 2012, Chief Supt O’Sullivan said those who thought they could avoid detection on an ongoing basis were seriously mistaken.

He said every member of the force, not just the traffic bureau, were there to detect vehicular offences. and vowed that as a force “We are out there as much as ever,” he said.

“Errant motorists have to be lucky all the time and the balance of probability clearly is that you will be caught.”