Concern over wild deer risk for Kerry drivers

A warning has been given of the risk of further road deaths, unless safety measures are improved on a short section of one of the country’s busiest tourist routes.

Five people have died, in recent years, on a 2km stretch of the N72 Ring of Kerry between Killarney town and the local golf club on the Killorglin road.

South Kerry coroner Terence Casey has called for better signage to alert to drivers to wild deer and for increased fencing to prevent them accessing the road.

It is believed some of the fatal crashes occurred as drivers swerved to avoid deer which suddenly appeared before them. Deer are regularly spotted on roads.

Kerry County Council has met with the gardaí, the National Parks and Wildlife Service and the National Roads Authority to discuss any improvements that could be made to the stretch of road which is a 50km/h speed zone.

A number of improvements have been suggested, including extra signage and the removal of eight trees adjacent to a bend to improve sight distance.

Fáilte Ireland owns the lands and it recently gave permission for a tree-felling programme. A submission for funding is also being prepared for the National Roads Authority.

A traffic calming scheme, near the golf club entrance and the Liebherr crane factory was completed in 2014. The NRA funded the works, carried out by the county council.

The area has been included in the Garda safety camera zones, following a recent review. This area will be monitored by a mobile camera and signs have been erected at Ballydowney and Fossa to notify road users.

Residents claim drivers are not obeying the speed limit and are driving too fast on a noted treacherous road with a number of bends.

Ireland South MEP Seán Kelly is a resident and he felt the removal of a bend close to his house, where several crashes have occurred, would help.

“The bend should be taken and the road straightened. If that can’t be done, other safety measures have to be introduced to prevent further accidents and deaths,” he said. “Deer can be seen frequently grazing at the edge of the road and the lack of deer fencing, combined with the dangerous bend, creates serious traffic hazards. Too many accidents are happening here.

“People only hear about the fatal accidents, but about three to four time more non-fatal accidents than fatal accidents happen there.”

Cllr John Sheahan (FG), who is to raise the issue at the next council meeting, said speed was a key issue and further traffic calming work was needed.

There have also been calls for a cull of the deer population which is spreading around the surrounding countryside from Killarney National Park.

Independent Cllr Danny Healy-Rae said there were serious concerns about an increase in deer numbers and motorists were regularly colliding with deer crossing roads. Deer were ranging for miles outside the national park boundaries and he called for the park to be properly fenced and for all deer to be tagged. He has also suggested ‘zebra-style’ deer crossings, on roads which deer regularly cross, to warn people of deer in an area.

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