Half of all fatal crashes in Cork this year have occurred within 50km/h speed limits, and gardaí believe the reason in many cases is drivers are failing to slow after coming off motorways.
Chief Supt Gerard Dillane told a meeting of the Co Cork joint policing committee that the worst time for serious accidents was between 2pm and 10pm on Fridays — when people are travelling home for weekends.
“We have a lot of motorways in the country now where people can do 120km/h. They still have it in their own minds that they’re travelling on a motorway, even when they’re off it and in 50km/h limits,” he said.
So far this year 14 people have lost their lives in traffic accidents in Cork, which is down from 17 for the comparable period in 2012.
Ten were car drivers, three were passengers, and one a pedestrian. Seven of the victims died within 50km/h speed limits, three each within the 80km and 100km/h limits, and just one on a motorway.
Two died after their cars were in collision with HGVs and one died in a tractor accident.
Dr Iamhar O’Sullivan, consultant in emergency medicine at Cork University Hospital, told the meeting that while Ireland had the safest motorways in Europe “the trouble is our other roads need addressing”.
He said minor roads need to be made safer, but enforcement by gardaí had to be ongoing, and added that he was concerned that Garda Traffic Corps numbers were being cut nationally from 1,250 to 800.
“This doesn’t fill me with confidence,” he said.
Chief Supt Dillane said that all gardaí would have to get involved in traffic enforcement duties from now on. He said that gardaí were concerned motorists were not renewing their tyres when they fell below the legal thread limit.
“Maybe it’s because of the present economy, but people are ignoring this,” he said.
“They only do it when they are going for their NCTs. We’ve seen a lot of aquaplaning in the recent wet weather because of this.”
Dr O’Sullivan said that for every road fatality, two survivors ended up with permanent, long-term, serious disability, another 40 required hospitalisation, and 300 needed out-patient treatment.
On the plus side, those who had an accident in Cork had the benefit of access to CUH — the only level one trauma hospital in the country.
However, he said ideally CUH should have a helipad and this is being addressed by the HSE with the hope of getting one installed shortly.
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