MEP Jim Higgins has welcomed official figures showing a decrease of 38 per cent in the number of deaths on the Republic of Ireland’s roads in January this year compared to the same period last year.
“If we were to maintain these figures, throughout the year, we would save 60 more lives in 2012 compared to 2011, which was already a record-low in terms of fatalities,” said Mr Higgins, expressing concern that the number of gardaí patrolling the roads would be decreased. “Nothing replaces the visual reminder of a garda at the road side checking for speed and alcohol.”
The MEP said that roads now posing a serious risk were motorways, although these remain the safest roads statistically.
“While they are the safest roads in the country, we need to redouble our efforts in terms of ensuring that all drivers know how to use motorways correctly. The problem with motorways is that when you have an accident it can cause multiple deaths due to the speeds and number of cars using the facility. How we can continue to have a system where learner drivers are not allowed to practice on our motorways is beyond me. The RSA, who have done a magnificent job might look at this in their new road safety strategy currently being drafted.”
The Fine Gael MEP also said he was “deeply concerned” by the number of people driving up the wrong side of the motorway by mistake, a phenomenon known as “ghost driving".
“Clearly we need to look at some of our junction designs. Junctions 13 and 14 of the M18 at Ennis in Co Clare need a complete overhaul. A ‘wrong way - turn back’ sign is not sufficient,” he concluded.