'ROAD USERS ARE TAKING HEED OF OUR CAMPAIGNS' Noel Gibbons, Mayo County Council Road Safety Officer.
2019 figures buck national trend
MAYO has bucked the national trend for road safety. The county saw a 66 percent reduction in the number of road deaths in 2019, while road-death numbers rose 4 percent nationally.
A total of 148 people died on Ireland’s roads last year. In Mayo, the number of road fatalities fell from nine in 2018 to three in 2019.
The sharp decrease in fatalities on Mayo’s roads made 2019 one of the safest in Mayo, a statistic that was welcomed by Mayo Road Safety Officer Noel Gibbons.
“I am very happy with the reduction in road deaths in Mayo considering that nationally there was an increase in road deaths,” he told The Mayo News. “We have bucked the trend here in Mayo with the reduction, but three deaths is still three too many, and unfortunately one accident could see that figure rise again.”
Second consecutive year
The decrease in fatalities follows a similar pattern seen last year, when the number of deaths also fell from the previous year, from eleven in 2017 to nine in 2018. Mr Gibbons believes that education remains the key to reducing road deaths, and he believes that road users are starting to take heed of road-safety campaigns.
“I don’t think that the reduction in road deaths is simply down to good luck… I do think that motorists and all road users are taking heed of our campaigns. We will continue to try to get the message out to road users to keep safe during the year, and I wish to thank the media for all their help in doing that,” he said.
Mr Gibbons also welcomed the new law which was recently introduced where motorists face a fine of up to €120 and penalty points for dangerous overtaking of cyclists. A keen cyclist, Mr Gibbons feels that since the law was introduced motorists have been taking more care when overtaking. However, he pointed out that there is also an onus on cyclists to obey the rules of the road.
This year, the Mayo Road Safety Officer is planning to focus on the use of mobile phones while driving.
“It seems every second driver is using a mobile phone, and it is highly dangerous. People’s addictions to their phones does not stop when they get behind the wheel, and the public needs to be aware of how dangerous it is,” he said.
Nationally there were no counties that did not record a road fatality in 2019. The highest number were recorded in Dublin, where 19 deaths occurred, followed by Cork with 16. In Connacht, there were eight deaths recorded in Galway, while there were four in Roscommon and one each in Leitrim and Sligo. The number of pedestrian deaths dropped nationally by 36 percent and passenger deaths fell by 20 percent, but the number of drivers killed rose by 45 percent compared to 2018.
Commenting on the 2019 figures, Moyagh Murdock, CEO of the Road Safety Authority, said: “For 2020 we will ensure that our education and awareness plans target the main killer behaviours and that this is integrated into the Garda roads policing plans.
“In particular we will prioritise the non-wearing of seatbelts and intoxicated driving through alcohol or drugs. We will also focus on promoting the safety of vulnerable road users, specifically by raising awareness of the new safe overtaking of cyclists law, focusing on motorcycle safety and commissioning a new pedestrian safety campaign.”