Gardaí announce major roads operation targeting four 'lifesaver' offences over Bank Holiday weekend
Fatal road crashes and pedestrian deaths have jumped in 2020, despite far fewer cars on the roads.
An Garda Síochána and the Road Safety Authority (RSA) have renewed their pleas for motorists to exercise caution on Irish roads ahead of an enforcement campaign over the upcoming Bank Holiday weekend.
The appeal comes as Irish road deaths have increased, despite the reduction in mobility that has come with the Covid-19 lockdown restrictions.
So far this year, there has been a 17% increase in fatal road collisions and a 100% increase in the number of pedestrian deaths, which have jumped from nine to 18. In total, deaths on Irish roads are at 60 this year, compared to 55 at the same time last year.
Paul Cleary, Chief Superintendent of the Garda National Roads Policing Unit, said: "In light of the increase in road deaths this year, An Garda Síochána will launch a Roads Policing enforcement operation this coming June Bank Holiday weekend.
Cleary said that the operation will concentrate on what are called "lifesaver" offences. These include driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, speeding, non-seatbelt wearing and using a mobile phone while driving.
"Of concern is the number of people arrested so far this year for driving under the influence of an intoxicant; either alcohol or drugs," he noted.
"Notwithstanding the recent Covid-19 restrictions with reduced traffic on our roads and the closure of licensed premises, we have still seen 1,153 people detected for driving under the influence of an intoxicant, since 27 March."
Gardaí are making this appeal as the June bank holiday approaches, with Minister for Transport Shane Ross saying: "I am greatly alarmed at the rise in road deaths this year, particularly at the increase in pedestrian deaths. Road safety is a public health issue and the way we all behave on the road determines whether people live, suffer injury or die."
Director of the RSA Michael Rowland also warned that there would be more pedestrians around over the Bank Holiday and the coming summer months.
"As has been the pattern throughout the current health crisis many people will be out walking, jogging and cycling," he said.
"The lifting of some restrictions in Phase 1 of the government’s road map also means that more people will be driving, for example to garden centres and other locations where outdoor sports have resumed.
"Secondary students are also officially on their summer holidays so you can expect to see more young people walking or cycling on the road."