Garda campaign to cut pedestrian road deaths includes new orders to prosecute

 

A garda campaign to reduce pedestrian road deaths - including an increase in prosecutions for offences such as drunkenness and jay-walking - is to start next week.

The campaign is being concentrated on Dublin, Galway, Cork and Waterford. It will be announced with advertisements and leafleting by uniformed gardai in urban centres.

Gardai will also be issued with a directive to "prosecute where appropriate" in relation to pedestrian offences under the 1997 Road Traffic by-laws.

Until now there have been very few pedestrian by-law prosecutions. However, under the 1997 Act, jay-walking can be punished by a fine of up to ú150 for a first offence to a fine of ú350 and three months' imprisonment for a third offence. There are similar punishments for drunkenness.

The campaign is regarded as necessary because of the continuing high level of pedestrian deaths, particularly in urban areas.

So far this year 22 pedestrians have been killed in road accidents. Last year 130 pedestrians were killed. In many cases the pedestrian was at fault, either jay-walking or crossing a road while drunk.

The Garda campaign will be launched in conjunction with a publicity and advertising campaign by the National Road Safety Council.

The campaign on pedestrians will also run in conjunction with the Garda's operation Lifesaver '98, which is aimed at reducing road deaths, mainly in rural areas. This has been running since last summer and has led to a major increase in the number of speeding and other prosecutions. More than 20,000 speeding fines have been issued as a result of the operation.

The object of Lifesaver '98 is stated as: "Through high-profile, intensive Garda activity to raise the public awareness of the dangers of speeding, not wearing seat belts and of dangerous and drunken driving and the social unacceptability of flouting these laws."

In order to improve the prosecution rate in a number of local districts, however, the local Garda management instructed gardai in district stations to increase their traffic surveillance work from the start of last month.

District stations in Laois/Offaly have been instructed to increase the number of speeding prosecutions by 100 per cent; drunken driving prosecutions by 50 per cent; seat-belt prosecutions by 50 per cent; and dangerous driving prosecutions by 25 per cent.

After the Louth/Meath division, which has the main Dublin-Belfast road running through it, Laois/Offaly has the heavy cross-country traffic on the N7 and N8 which between them carry some 28,000 vehicles a day. Last year there were 24 road deaths in the division and local management has ordered an increase in "static visibility points" to increase driver safety awareness.