Belfast Telegraph

Gardai issue plea on road safety

More than one in 10 drivers and passengers killed on Irish roads were not wearing a seatbelt, it has emerged.

As figures show eight more people have died in crashes compared to this time last year, gardai warned many people continue to speed as well as drive while drunk, tired or using a mobile phone.

The latest victim, a motorist, was killed earlier today near Smithborough, Co Monaghan.

Gardai called on all road users to take extra care and revealed more motorcyclists have lost their lives so far this year compared to the whole of 2012.

Chief Superintendent Michael O'Sullivan said: "There is no doubt that excessive or inappropriate speed plays a significant factor in collisions, and in particular what happens to those involved.

"We know from our analysis that four out of five fatal road traffic collisions are occurring on roads with a speed limit of 80km/h (50mph) or more.

"Reducing your speed, and ensuring you and all your passengers wear a seatbelt, could be the difference between life and death."

A total of 119 people have been killed on Irish roads so far this year, with 277 suffering serious injuries.

The death toll includes 62 drivers, 19 passengers, 15 pedestrians, four cyclists, 17 motorcyclists and two pillion passengers - compared to 16 motorcyclists killed last year.

Figures show July was the worst month of the year for road deaths, when 18 people died, with Friday afternoons and evenings the single worse time for fatal collisions when one in five were killed.

More than half of all fatal collisions involve a single vehicle which usually hits a tree, ditch, fence, or wall.

The majority happen on local and regional roads outside built up areas and 13% of drivers and passengers killed were not wearing a seatbelt.

Investigators said motorcyclists have accounted for nearly 15% of road fatalities, despite only representing 1.5% of the national fleet.

The four most common types of collision were a bike overtaking another vehicle and colliding head on with a car; turning right while overtaking and hitting the side of the turning vehicle; losing control while taking a corner and crossing into the path of an oncoming vehicle; and being hit by a car turning or driving through a junction or joining a main road.

The senior Garda said the deaths are not a driver or rider issue alone.

"We are all road users, and we all need to always take personal responsibility for everything we do on the roads," Mr O' Sullivan continued.

"If we fail to work together and reverse the increase in fatalities showing to date in 2013, we could ultimately be facing an increase in road fatalities for the first time in eight years.

"Every road fatality brings devastation and heartbreak to the families and friends of those involved."

Elsewhere figures show 4,542 motorists have been accused of drunk driving so far this year, while there were 95,820 people caught speeding, 5,974 not wearing a seatbelt and 12,898 seen using their mobile phone.

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