A collision yesterday on the main Dublin-Cork route was the third fatal incident in the last three years to involve an elderly motorist driving the wrong way on motorways in Cork.
The incident occurred when the driver of a Tipperary South-registered 4x4 was going the wrong way up the motorway. He was killed in a head-on collision with a newspaper delivery van.
It happened on the southbound carriageway of the M8, just south of the village of Rathcormac, close to junction 16.
Gardaí are trying to establish why the driver was heading north in the southbound lane when the crash occurred around 11.30am.
It is understood a number of motorists contacted gardaí prior to the fatal crash reporting an SUV travelling north from Watergrasshill in the wrong lane.
The driver, believed to be in his late 70s or early 80s and from Castlelyons, Co Cork, was pronounced dead at the scene. He was named as Tom Joe O’Riordan. A beef and dairy farmer, he was life president of Castlelyons GAA Club. He leaves a wife Moira, and children, William, Martin, and Annette.
The delivery van driver, who is in his late 20s and from the Glanmire area, had to be cut from the vehicle.
He was said to have suffered leg and hip injuries and was taken to Cork University Hospital where he was described as being in a serious but stable condition.
Gardaí closed a section of the motorway for several hours, diverting vehicles heading south at Fermoy and back on at Watergrasshill.
The road death tally for 2016 has climbed to 187, an increase of 25 over 2015.
Also yesterday, a woman in her 80s was found dead following a single vehicle crash in Cavan. It is believed the incident occurred on Thursday when her car hit a ditch. Gardaí were called to the scene at Keenagh near Ballyjamesduff, at approximately 10.45am yesterday.
The driver was pronounced dead at the scene and her body was removed to Our Lady’s Hospital Navan for a postmortem.
In Cork, Garda forensic collision investigators started their investigation at the scene of the M8 crash.
Assistant Commissioner Michael Finn, who is in charge of the country’s Traffic Corps, said depending on the outcome of the investigation, gardaí would work with Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) to ensure everything is done to prevent drivers from travelling on the wrong side of motorways.
Gardaí are appealing for witnesses to yesterday’s incident to contact Fermoy Garda Station on 025 82100, or the Garda Confidential Line on 1800 666 111.
In August 2014, a Dublin man in his late 20s was killed when his car collided with a four-wheel-drive that was being driven on the wrong side of the same motorway by an elderly woman. The impact of that collision, between junctions 13 and 14, just north of Fermoy, was so severe the car was thrown into the air.
Following that accident, the then National Roads Authority, now the TII, said it would put in extra road markings on junctions along the M8 in north Cork and south Tipperary in an effort to prevent drivers going the wrong way.
In July 2013, an 82-year-old man died after driving the wrong way along the Cork-Waterford motorway and colliding with another car.
The incident occurred at Harper’s Island, about 1km on the city side of the Carrigtwohill/Cobh cross junction.
Chief Superintendent Gerard Dillane, who is in charge of the North Cork Garda Division, had told a meeting of the Cork County joint policing committee that a growing number of elderly people are driving the wrong way on motorways and they need to be educated on how to deal with fast, modern highways.
He suggested elderly drivers get “an education package” for motorway driving.
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