Road deaths up 50% in Cork last year


ROAD DEATHS increased by 50 per cent in Co Cork last year, while more than a quarter of all fatal crashes took place in the southern region.

Cork is the only county to record an increase in road fatalities in 2011, with decreases recorded in every other county.

Gardaí revealed statistics in Cork yesterday as part of the Operation Focus road safety campaign.

The number of people killed on Irish roads continues to fall, with 186 fatalities recorded in 2011, the lowest since records began in 1959.

However, Chief Supt Aidan Reid said drivers in the south needed to be aware of the causes behind road deaths as speed remained a key factor in the majority of fatal incidents.

Of the 54 fatalities on roads in Cork, Kerry and Limerick over the past 15 months, 74 per cent have been male and 52 per cent were under the age of 33.

Pedestrian deaths accounted for 34 per cent of those lost.

Seven motorcyclists and three cyclists were among the 54 fatalities on southern roads since the beginning of 2011.

“The objective is to remind people that it doesn’t pay to take chances on our roads. As a community we all have a duty to ensure that no family should ever lose a loved one on our roads as a result of reckless behaviour,” Chief Supt Reid said.

Motorists are more vulnerable at particular times of the day – between midnight and 4am and between 3pm and 6pm. Almost one-third of crashes in the past 15 months occurred between 3pm and 6pm.

Despite last year’s 50 per cent increase, road fatalities have fallen significantly in Cork in 2012 compared to the same period last year, Supt Gerard Dillane of Anglesea Street station said.

“This time last year eight people had died on the road in Cork, two this year; that’s a reduction of six.”

Some 44 people have been killed on roads nationally so far in 2012, down 12 on the same period last year.

Operation Focus aims to target speed, driving under the influence of drink or drugs and use of seat belts, particularly rear seat belts.

Instances of speeding motorists caught on camera across the State more than doubled last year, from just over 100,000 in 2010 to 218,000 in 2011. Some 45,000 of cases were recorded in the Cork, Kerry and Limerick region.

Drink-drivers in southern counties made up 20 per cent of cases across the State last year.

More than 33,000 motorists were fined for using a mobile phone while driving last year.

Just over 15,000 faced fines for not using seat belts.

Road Safety Authority chief executive Noel Brett said Operation Focus was a reminder to motorists who continued to take risks that they would be caught.