Irish motorists detected driving through 50 km/h streets at “motorway speeds”
Authorities have expressed serious concern with the number of drivers detected speeding despite a vast decrease in traffic in recent weeks.
An Garda Síochána and The Road Safety Authority (RSA) have expressed concern at the number of motorists being detected driving at excessive speed of late, including some who have been detected speeding through streets with 50km/h limits “at what can only be described as motorway speeds”.
The concern from authorities comes ahead of an increased Garda operation on Irish roads as part of the resumption of Operation Fanacht ahead of the May Bank Holiday weekend and the revelation that pedestrian deaths have doubled in Ireland this year.
In the year to date (up to 29 April), 16 pedestrians have been killed on Irish roads, compared to eight in the same period last year. Six pedestrians alone have died since the schools were closed in the middle of March.
Since 13 March, there have been 17 road traffic fatalities in Ireland, only one less than the same period last year despite the reduction in the volume of traffic.
In total, 54 people have died on Irish roads so far in 2020, seven more than in the same period in 2019.
Authorities have warned both motorists and pedestrians of the need for caution, with pedestrians advised to follow the rules of the road and motorists advised that they should expect to encounter more pedestrians and cyclists than normal due to the reduced volume of traffic on the roads.
Commenting on Wednesday, Chief Superintendent Paul Cleary of An Garda Síochána, said: “Despite the reduced amount of traffic on our roads at this time, we still have concerns for vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and cyclists, and we would appeal to motorists to reduce their speed.
“Speed is a factor in up to one third of road fatalities and since 28 March 2020, there have been 8,226 motorists detected driving in excess of the speed limit, a decrease of 38% on the same period last year.”
"Although there is a substantial reduction in traffic volumes, some drivers are driving at extreme speed whilst the roads are quieter,” Cleary added.
"For example, a driver was recently arrested after travelling at 202km/h on the M1 motorway, this is completely irresponsible and a danger to all road users.”
Cleary also repeated an appeal to motorists not to drive under the influence of intoxicants and warned of a greater chance of detection due to an increased Garda presence. Last week, it was revealed that just under 500 people had been arrested for drink and drug driving in a period of less than four weeks.
Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Shane Ross added: "It is absolutely staggering that in this time of crisis and loss, there are people still driving under the influence of drink or drugs.
“The high volume of intoxicated driving – little changed from before the Covid restrictions – may be an indicator that people who are willing to behave irresponsibly by driving after taking intoxicants are also the people most likely to breach Covid restrictions and take unnecessary journeys. This behaviour must stop.”
"All drivers need to slow down and watch out for vulnerable road users," Ross added.
“There has been a worrying increase in pedestrian deaths this year. I would also urge pedestrians and cyclists to exercise care when using the roads during this time.
"It is critical that we all practice good road safety habits, so we don’t add to the workload of our frontline health care workers who are trying to deal with and contain the Covid-19 pandemic."