A NEW road safety campaign has been launched by the Road Safety Authority after CCTV cameras captured ‘ghost drivers’ driving in the wrong direction towards oncoming traffic on approach roads to the Limerick Tunnel.
The operators of the Limerick Tunnel, Direct Route, record up to 20 incidents of ‘ghost drivers’ a month mainly on the road which links the Clonmacken roundabout to the Clonmacken toll plaza which are located at the Coonagh side of the tunnel.
The number of ‘ghost drivers’ on the main line has reduced dramatically this year compared to the months after it opened in July last year, but the link road from the Clonmacken roundabout remains a blackspot for this unusual driver behaviour.
Last month, 26 ‘ghost drivers’ were recorded on the high-tech system operated by Direct Route. The motorists driving along the west link, stop before reaching the Clonmacken toll plaza and then reverse half a kilometre along the hard shoulder to the Clonmacken roundabout.
General manager, Tom King, said these motorists are breaking the law and putting their own lives and the lives of others at risk. He is baffled by the phenomenon of ‘ghost drivers’. “I honestly don’t know why people do that. I have no explanation for it. It’s not through a lack of signage on the roads, it’s well signed.”
Mr King sent CCTV footage of motorists driving in the wrong direction along the motorway in Limerick to the Road Safety Authority and the National Roads Authority, asking them to consider an educational campaign to teach people how to drive on modern motorways.
Upon seeing the footage, the authorities paid heed to his advice and this week launched a new 40-second TV ad which focuses on lane discipline and overtaking on a motorway. A further ad focusing on not driving the wrong way on a motorway is also due.
Mr King said there is nothing adversely unique about driver behaviour in Limerick, noting that Direct Route is in a better position to record it because of the high-tech CCTV system operating at the Limerick Tunnel.
“We have over 100 CCTV cameras along the route which are programmed to record this type of activity automatically because we have magnetic induction loop in the road which picks up traffic travelling in the wrong direction, and they turn towards the traffic doing that and set off an alarm at our centre. So we are immediately aware of somebody doing something like this and we call the gardai out and get our emergency people out to stop them. Other motorways in the country are not as well serviced with CCTV and remote monitoring systems.”