WITH national figures showing a 16 per cent rise in lives lost in traffic tragedies this year, Limerick has emerged as the third most dangerous county for road deaths per head of population.
There has been more than a doubling of road deaths in Limerick so far this year with 6.33 deaths per 100,000 people compared to 2.92 deaths per 100,000 people last year.
Only Sligo, with eight fatalities per 100,000 and Monaghan with 7.71 road deaths per 100,000, were ahead of Limerick, according to data compiled by the Irish Independent and provided by road safety group Parc, the Gardaí and Road Safety Authority (RSA).
Limerick Deputy Mayor Kieran O’Hanlon, whose sister, Maeve, died in a road accident when she was only 17, said that every time he hears about road deaths, he remembers the sadness his family felt every Christmas.
“I can tell you, even though it’s nearly 70 years since Maeve died, I know that losing a child on the road is very hard for parents – they never get over it,” the veteran Fianna Fáil councillor told the Irish Independent.
“I’ve noticed more speeding and carelessness on the roads in Limerick since Covid. We have to have more Gardaí doing speed checks and particularly in urban areas.
“Drivers need to have more respect and courtesy for others. They are putting their own lives and the lives of others at risk to get somewhere one minute earlier.”
A total of 138 people have died on Irish roads so far this year – 20 more than for the same period last year.
Parc compiled a detailed analysis of provisional road traffic statistics obtained from both the Gardaí and Road Safety Authority (RSA) in advance of the peak Christmas travel season.
The group said it was concerned at the disproportionate number of elderly drivers dying in collisions both as motorists and pedestrians.
Parc campaigner Susan Gray pointed out that almost half of the total number of deaths on Irish roads were those of pedestrians, motorcyclists and cyclists.
She said the soaring number of road deaths after the easing of Covid-19 lockdowns was proof that Garda traffic policing needed even greater resourcing and the Government must commit not only to reforming traffic law but ensuring that existing safety regulations were fully enforced.
With speed a factor in one third of all fatal collisions Limerick Gardaí have asked motorists to slow down, particularly over the coming weeks.
Garda John Finnerty of the Limerick Crime Prevention Unit said that drivers had to realise that the speed limit was not a target. It is simply the maximum speed you are legally entitled to drive at on a stretch of road.
“You must drive at a speed appropriate to road and weather conditions, volumes of traffic present, and likelihood of hazards. When drivers ignore these factors, even travelling below a particular speed limit, they could very easily find themselves in a potential crash scenario,”he warned.