Local road safety group Cosain is calling for the introduction of fixed speed cameras on the west side of the city after surveys showed speeding to be “out of control”, with the highest speed recorded being a taxi travelling at a shocking 94km/h in the middle of the afternoon.
The surveys were conducted by Cosain (Community Road Safety Action and Information Network ) during National Slow Down Day at four locations on Friday, May 31, last and showed that more than 60 per cent of the 400 vehicles observed were speeding at 60km/h or more in a 50km/h zone. The highest speeds recorded was 90km/h at Knocknacarra Road between 6.50am and 7.35am, 78km/h at Siobhán McKenna Road between 12.15pm and 1.20pm, 94km/h at Kingston Road between 2.05pm and 2.55pm, and 93km/h at Bóthar Stiofáin between 5.25pm and 6pm and between 8pm and 9pm.
Cosain members conducted four observational spot surveys of free speed at these locations using a hand-held radar device. The locations were chosen because of their high traffic volumes, prior indication of speed being a problem, extensive residential and commercial developments, the daily presence of pedestrians, cyclists, and/or bus users, and the generally incomplete nature of the roads such as the absence of continuous footpaths, traffic calming features, or pedestrian-priority crossings.
During the 24 hours of Operation Slowdown, from 7am on May 31 to 7am on Saturday June 1, GoSafe checked the speed of 53,469 vehicles across the country, and of these a total of 321 were detected travelling in excess of the speed limit, resulting in a detection rate of 0.6 per cent nationally. In contrast, more than eight out of 10 motorists observed in all four Cosain surveys were breaking the speed limit at least nominally, ie, travelling at 51km/h or faster. If speeding is taken as driving at 60km/h or more in a 50km/h zone, then a total of 255 motorists in the Cosain studies were observed to be speeding, comprising 64 per cent of the 400 vehicles surveyed. The report further stated that these 255 instances of speeding amount to 80 per cent of the total number of offences (321 ) detected nationwide by Operation Slowdown, indicating a prevalence of speeding 100 times greater than the official detection rate on national primary and secondary routes (64 per cent compared to 0.6 per cent ). The report found that the level of high-risk speeding (motorists travelling at 65km/h or above ) ranged from a quarter of observations on Siobhán McKenna Road to well over half on Knocknacarra Road.
Conducted between 6.50am and 7.35am the survey found that the average (mean ) speed was 67 km/h, and nearly six out of 10 motorists were driving at 65km/h or faster. Just over one-third of the motorists observed were driving at 20km/h or more above the 50km/h speed limit, while almost one in five (19 per cent ) were exceeding the limit by 25km/h or more. The highest speed recorded was a car travelling at 90km/h at 7.17am approximately.
Siobhán McKenna Road
This survey was conducted between 12.15pm and 1.20pm when traffic volumes were much higher and speeds noticeably lower. It was found that there was a significant pedestrian presence, including people crossing at various points along the road. Half of the 100 vehicles surveyed were going at 60km/h or faster, while 15 per cent of them were doing 51km/h or less. The lowest free speed recorded was 42km/h and the fastest was 78km/h. The average (mean ) speed was 59km/h. Almost one in four vehicles observed (24 per cent ) were travelling at 15km/h or more over the 50km/h speed limit, while one in 20 (five per cent ) was observed to be 25km/h or more over the limit.
Starting at 2.05pm and finishing at 2.55pm this survey found that while pedestrians, cyclists, and bus users were present the average speed here was 62km/h and 30 per cent of the 100 vehicles observed were travelling at 15km/h or more above the 50km/h limit. The highest speed recorded was a taxi doing 94km/h at 2.10pm approximately. Shortly before that a car was seen crossing the continuous white line to overtake at a speed of 84km/h.
This was the fourth and final survey undertaken by Cosain and was broken up into two sessions, between 5.25pm and 6pm and between 8pm and 9pm. It found that the average speed was 62km/h and of the 100 vehicles observed, 63 per cent were travelling at 60km/h or faster, 30 per cent were doing 65km/h or more, and 15 per cent were travelling at 70km/h or more. The highest speed recorded was 93km/h, which was a car travelling northwards at 8.20pm approximately.
Cosain concluded that the four spot speed surveys “provide further evidence of an unchecked speeding problem on the west side of Galway city”. It further stated that “this level of speeding, in addition to being illegal, exposes other road users to an unacceptable degree of risk, and creates an unpleasant or even threatening urban environment for especially vulnerable groups such as older people, children, pedestrians, cyclists, and bus users. As stated in previous speed survey reports, there is an urgent need for law enforcement, traffic calming, pedestrian crossings, and other measures (following best practise ) in order to significantly reduce average speed, maximise compliance with the speed limit, and provide greater safety and a higher level of service for citizens who wish to walk, cycle, or use public transport.”
The Cosain group further recommended that an official survey and needs assessment be carried out as soon as possible, with the aim of “accurately measuring the overall level of speeding in the areas identified as problematic as well as determining the nature and extent of speed limit enforcement, traffic calming, crossing facilities, and other measures required to protect and accommodate vulnerable road users in particular.” Cosain also advised that further consideration should be given to the introduction of fixed speed cameras in order to significantly improve the level of compliance in Galway city.
Discussing the Cosain surveys at a recent meeting of the Joint Policing Committee Mr Tommy Flaherty (Galway City Community Forum ) called for Garda representatives to respond to the findings, to discuss the possibility of introducing more speed cameras, and to provide an update on the actual and proposed Garda or GoSafe speed checks in Galway city. Mr Flaherty congratulated Cosain for its work in supporting the JPC and “making sure roads are safer”.
In response Chief Superintendent Tom Curley said that fixed speed cameras “are very beneficial for enforcement” and there has been a “marked reduction in accident prone locations”. He further explained that the locations of the cameras are being extended but that it requires a lot of time consuming research before they can be put in place. Chief Supt Curley confirmed that gardai are committed to carrying out more speed checks but that the public have “to buy into it as well” and that perhaps penalty points will help bring about a culture shock.