A survey by EuroRAP, the European Road Assessment Programme, found that picking routes that at least partially involve motorways or dual carriageways could make the difference between a low and medium risk journey and between a medium and medium-high risk trip.
An example given is the drive between Limerick and Tralee which can either take the N69 via Listowel, using stretches of road that are rated partially low-medium and partially medium risk, or the N20 and N21 via Abbeyfeale, all of which is rated low-medium.
Another example is the journey between Dublin and Enniscorthy which can involve a medium and medium-high risk journey along the N81 and N80 via Baltinglass or alternatively a low, low-medium and medium risk journey going via Gorey and using the N11 and M11 instead.
Conor Faughnan of AA Ireland urged motorists to get to know the different options available to them and take precautions where they could. “Single carriageway are as much as six times more dangerous than motorways and twice as dangerous as dual carriageways,” he said.
“We hope that people will take time to have a look at the survey and reflect on it.
“Of course, safe driving at all times is of primary importance but there are roads that are higher risk than others and if motorists are aware of that it is helpful in its own right.”
EuroRAP identified key hazards on Irish roads as narrow driving lanes, lack of overtaking opportunities, lack of hard shoulders, poorly positioned junctions, no right-turning lanes and roadside obstacles such as telegraph poles and houses that directly border the road’s edge.
Remedial works recommended where possible include widening roads, adding slip lanes, installing physical barriers between carriageways, creating hard shoulders or at the very least ensuring all road lining is clear and edges are well-defined.
The survey also reviewed the “two plus one” road design piloted in several locations which alternates a dual carriageway stretch with a single carriageway stretch so that motorists in both directions have sections where they can overtake safely on roads which are not wide enough to have dual carriageway the whole way along.
It said the two plus one section of the N20 between Mallow and Rathduff in Co Cork had been well received by motorists since it opened in 2005.
However, there was some concern that its traffic volumes of up to 16,000 vehicles was higher than the recommended 12,000 and could lead to bottlenecks.
The full report is available on the EuroRAP website, www.eurorap.org, and on www.aaireland.ie.