Gardaí are planning a major clampdown on speeding this weekend in a bid to reduce the amount of fatalities on the roads during the lethal summer period.
More than 70,000 speeding offences have been recorded so far this year, prompting the gardaí to question whether the public are getting the message that speed kills.
The vast majority of those caught speeding were driving significantly higher than the limit.
More than 56,000 people were driving between 10km/h and 29km/h above the speed limit, while 7,150 were going between 30km/h and 49km/h over.
Some 420 people exceeded the limit by more than 50km/h.
In Faha, Co Kerry, a driver was caught driving at 178km/h, while in Ballacolla, Co Laois, a motorist was caught driving at 195km/h.
“We know excessive or inappropriate speed is the main contributory factor in road traffic collisions,” said Chief Superintendent Mark Curran, from the Garda National Traffic Bureau.
“If it goes wrong for you on the road, the greater the speed at which you crash, the more severe the consequences will be.
“Please help us to make the summer months ahead, what is traditionally a high-risk period on the roads, a safe and enjoyable one for all road users. Reduce speed, drive to all the prevailing conditions, and watch out for all other road users.”
Figures show the June bank holiday weekend has consistently been the starting point for the most dangerous period for driving.
Over the last five years, 256 people have died on the roads in June, July, and August. Overall, 943 people have died on the roads since 2010.
Cork, Dublin, and Donegal are the counties with the highest road fatality figures.
“People assume that there are more risks in the wintertime because of the poor weather, poor road conditions, and more hours of darkness. But the opposite is true,” said RSA chief executive Moyagh Murdock.
“Summertime is more dangerous. Probably because there are no obvious dangers, the weather is fine, and days brighter, so we relax our guard.
“From the June bank holiday weekend onwards we really do need to have road safety at the top of our minds. Cyclists, pedestrians, and motorcyclists are most at risk and drivers really do need to keep their wits about them, slow down, and always be ready to react.”
AA Roadwatch is also asking drivers to take care this weekend.
“There is a 7% increase in fuel sales on the Friday and Saturday of bank holiday weekends as people get ready for long journeys. The motorways are busy from early on Friday and services like AA Rescue are geared up to be busy,” said Arwen Foley of AA Roadwatch.
“We’ve reported on some pretty horrific crashes over the past few years and all we can do is hope that motorists heed our warnings to slow down and stay a safe distance from the vehicle in front, particularly with the weather conditions and forecast.”
The M1 northbound is likely to be busy this weekend as the Irish Open continues at the Royal County Down Golf Club in Newcastle.
Tomorrow, Slane Castle in Co Meath, will play host to thousands of Foo Fighters fans, while Bloom Festival and Forbidden Fruit in Dublin City are likely to bring a lot of extra traffic to the N3/Navan Rd, the N4/Lucan Rd, and the area around Heuston Station.
There will also be major road closures around Cork City on Monday for the Irish Examiner Cork City Marathon and in Dublin for the Women’s Mini Marathon.
Meanwhile, in a further effort to promote road safety, the RSA, An Garda Síochána, and Applegreen are planning an initiative aimed at tired drivers.
On Monday, June 1, Applegreen outlets will provide free coffee to tired drivers at 17 participating service stations around the country.
Drivers simply mention ‘RSA’ to the till operator and they will receive their free cup of coffee.
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