FIGURES STILL TOO HIGH Mayo County Council Road Safety Officer, Noel Gibbons.
The number of road fatalities in the county fell from eleven in 2017 to nine for 2018
THE Road Safety Officer with Mayo County Council believes that the road safety message is getting through to drivers after a fall in road deaths in the county.
The annual number of road fatalities in Mayo fell in 2018, with nine fatalities recorded compared to eleven for 2017. The fall echoes the national trend, which saw a 4 percent drop in road deaths in Ireland, making it the safest year since road deaths were first recorded in 1959.
‘Still too high’
The drops in road fatalities in Ireland and Mayo were welcomed by Noel Gibbons, the Road Safety Officer with Mayo County Council, who stated that the trend is a step in the right direction.
“It is good to see that the number of road deaths in Mayo has fallen from 2017 when there was eleven deaths, but it is still too high and one death is always one too many,” he told The Mayo News.
“There is always the few [motorists] who continue to be reckless, and it is hard to get through to them. But I believe that the message is getting through to the majority of motorists. The number of road fatalities in Ireland continues to fall, and that is down to working with the likes of the RSA [Road Safety Authority], An Garda Síochána and communities to get the message through to road users,” he said.
No cyclist fatalities
The 2018 figures showed that eight of those who died in Mayo were travelling in a vehicle while there was only one pedestrian killed and no cyclists were killed. Mr Gibbons welcomed this saying at the believes the high people of people who are both cyclists and motorists means there is a greater tolerance and understanding among the two groups and an improvement in driver behaviour towards cyclists.
However, he added that he was disappointed that a proposed law to set a minimum passing distance for drivers overtaking cyclists has been abandoned, as he believe it would have been a big step forward in safety for cyclists.
The proposal, contained within the Road Traffic (Minimum Passing Distance of Cyclists) Bill 2017, would have made it an offence to pass a cyclist closer than 1m on roads with a speed limit under 50km/h and within 1.5m on roads with a limit of 50km/h or higher.
Minister for Transport Shane Ross said the bill will not proceed because of legal concerns on how it could be enforced.
Meanwhile, Liz O’Donnell, Chairperson of the RSA, is encouraging motorists to comply with the road safety legislation that the Government has introduced.
“If motorists comply with these new provisions it will translate into lives saved and injuries prevented. Garda Roads Policing numbers increased in 2018, and there is a commitment from An Garda Síochána to further increase numbers in 2019 to meet original targets. This will mean that those who don’t comply with these new provisions and other road traffic laws can expect to be detected and face the consequences of their actions,” she said.
Ms O’Donnell also called for funding to be provided to An Garda Síochána to enable the national roll-out of new smartphone and in-vehicle technology, commonly referred to as the Garda Mobility Project, which allows individual gardaí check the licence and insurance status of drivers at the roadside.
With the number of people exercising on the public road to increase in January, Mr Gibbons called on people to ensure they were well lit up and seen.
“If you are out cyclings, walking or running you should have hi-vis clothing to ensure people can see you. Just because you can see does not mean that drivers can see you. If you are wearing hi-vis clothing and have lights it means there is a great chance of avoiding an accident,” he said.
In Mayo, one person was arrested for drink driving on Christmas Day. The motorist was one of 32 people arrested for drink or drug driving in Mayo since December 8 over the Christmas period. The arrests were part of the Garda Christmas Enforcement campaign. Of these, 27 were arrested for drink driving, while the other five were arrested for drug driving.
Supt Joe McKenna of Castlebar Garda Station said that the arrests took place all over the county, with one taking place in the Charlestown region on Christmas Day.
“The number of arrests is a pity, because it is the same as last year, and we had hoped that the number would have come down. Despite all the messages and media campaigns, people are still taking the risk,” he said.
The number of gardaí attached to the traffic corps has increased in the last year and there were a number of speeding checkpoints across the county. One of these checkpoints detected a motorcyclists travelling at 180km/h in a 100km/h zone along the N5 at Drummindoo, Westport over the Christmas.