Limerick road deaths on the rise despite national improvement

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Chief Superintendent Dave Sheahan.
Chief Superintendent Dave Sheahan.

AS the final days of 2018 claimed a tenth life on Limerick roads, the latest Garda statistics show that Limerick has the third highest number of road fatalities in the country.

Only Dublin with 16 fatalities and Tipperary with 11 had higher numbers of road traffic deaths last year. While national figures indicate that there was a 4 per cent drop in road deaths, the number of fatalities in Limerick rose from eight to ten, representing 6.6 per cent of the national death toll.

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Despite the Limerick figures, 2018 was the safest year on Irish roads since records began in 1959.

Assistant Commissioner Dave Sheahan, who led the Limerick Division before his promotion to head of the Garda National Roads Policing Unit last year, said that complacency on road safety needs to be avoided.

“There were drivers who refused to get the message and unfortunately learned the hard way. There was a large increase in those detected committing speeding offences, mobile phone use and driving while under the influence of an intoxicant.

“As Garda numbers assigned to Road Policing Units in districts around the country – including Limerick – increase in 2019, I can guarantee that people will see a greater Garda presence on the roads. Whether there are any detections for traffic offences is entirely up to road users themselves.”

During 2018, 130,000 drivers were detected committing speeding offences; almost 30,000 detected using a mobile while driving; almost 9,000 driving under the influence of an intoxicant; and over 11,000 were detected for seatbelt offences.

Following the fatal collision on the N69 in Limerick where motorcyclist Jerry Holly lost his life, up to 3pm on New Year’s Eve, a total of 149 people lost their lives on Ireland’s roads as a result of 142 fatal crashes, compared to 156 lives lost in 141 fatal crashes in 2017.

While the figures represent a 4 per cent drop nationally, the increase in fatalities in counties Tipperary, Limerick and Donegal has drawn calls for motorists to improve their driving habits.  Assistant Commissioner Sheahan noted that in 2010, 23 lives were lost on Limerick roads.

“While we have come down greatly from that number over the last eight years, there has been an increase from 2017 to 2018 and one that we need drivers to curb.

“Slow down, belt up and don’t be reckless to drive under the influence. Improving road safety will accelerate lives being saved on all our roads,” he concluded.