'The figures are going in the wrong direction': Inspector Paul Reidy
THE head of the divisional traffic corps in Limerick says reducing road deaths locally in 2017 will be a priority for the gardai.
Fourteen people died following road accidents across the Limerick garda division during 2016 - an increase of 10 compared to 2015.
Road deaths across the country increased by 15% last year in the what the Road Safety Authority (RSA) has described as a “very bad year”.
Inspector Paul Reidy says while accidents will happen, the increase in road deaths and serious injury collisions in Limerick last year is a major concern.
An analysis of the statistic, shows that of those who died following collisions in 2016, half were drivers.
In addition, three of those who died were pedestrians, three were passengers and one was a motorcyclist.
Worryingly, the number of serious injury collisions also increased during 2016 from 19 to 24.
“The figures are going in the wrong direction and it will be a priority for us this year to reverse that trend,” said Insp Reidy.
Driver behaviour is a significant concern for gardai with incidents of drink-driving and drivers holding mobile phones on the increase locally.
An average of almost 60 drivers a week were caught using mobile phones during 2016 while in December alone there were 48 incidents of drink-driving compared to 28 in 2015.
Insp Reidy says a number of operations will be rolled out during 2017 and he is particularly appealing to drivers not to drive at excessive speed.
“Inappropriate speed is the most influential factor in the cause of all or most road traffic fatalities,” he said.
A specific operation focusing on pedestrian safety will also be rolled out later this year.
Each of the pedestrians who died last were were walking home late at night have been drinking earlier in the day.
“Pedestrian visibility is a huge priority for us, anyone who is out walking at night should be wearing a reflective jacket,” said Insp Reidy who said Operation High Visibility, which was tolled out before Christmas was well received.
As part of the operation, gardai called to pubs across the city and county to distribute high visibility jackets to customers who intended walking home.