The volume of traffic on national roads rose by 6% last year, with the M50 the country’s busiest road and the South Ring Road the most heavily used in Cork.
According to the 2017 annual report from Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII), 420,000 individual trips were made every day on the M50 last year and on the busiest section, between junctions J7 (Galway road) and J9 (Red Cow), traffic volumes now exceed 155,000 vehicles per day.
Cork’s busiest road is the N40 Cork Southern Ring Road — it had more than 80,000 vehicles on it each day.
The TII report shows that the highest hourly flow in 2017 was recorded on the Kinsale Road to Douglas section at 8am on June 4, with 8,109 trips recorded. The highest daily flow — 103,578 — was recorded on the same section of the road on December 21 last.
Peak incident time is 9am-10am and there were 125 incidents on the N40 last year, of which 41 were traffic collisions.
The numbers on the M50 exceeded that by a distance, with 1,429 separate incidents and 547 traffic collisions. Peak incident time was between 4pm and 7pm. In total there were approximately 5,200 incidents on the national road network last year.
However, the total fatal collisions on national roads fell to 46 last year — down from 72 in 2016 and the lowest level recorded over a five year period.
TII said: “Increased traffic volumes reflected renewed economic growth” and the report shows a 3% rise in traffic growth across the country last year, peaking at 3.9% in the border area and at its lowest level, 1.1%, in the south west.”
TII is responsible for 5,472km of national roads and for the Luas in Dublin. Luas passenger trip volume increased by more than 10% last year to 37.6m.
The report also shows that M50 tolling income last year amounted to €145m — up 16%. Bad debts or debt write-offs relating to unpaid tolls amounted to €3.5m last year, a fall of 3% compared with the figure for the previous year.
The report also shows that 380 tonnes of litter were collected from motorways last year, although according to the report: “2017 was the sixth successive year in which, as a consequence of funding constraints, TII’s investment in pavement renewals was significantly below what is required to ensure steady-state conditions.”
The Dublin Port tunnel experienced an increase of 7% in traffic volumes and with it, a heightened risk of collision due to excessive speed.
An enforcement system did alter driver behaviour in the tunnel - 55% of vehicles exceeded the tunnel speed limit of 80 km/h, with 4% exceeding 100 km/h, prior to the new system being implemented, but afterwards, the comparable figures fell to 15% and 0.01%.
The TII report has been laid before the Oireachtas.