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Hundreds of new speed traps in bid to save more lives

ACCIDENT black spots will be targeted as hundreds of new speed camera zones are introduced, it was revealed today.

THE cameras will target areas where there is a high rate of crashes caused by speeding.

It comes after a year in which the number of fatalities on Irish roads fell to an all-time low of 161. The figure was down from 186 the previous year.

However, the first road death of 2013 has already taken place. A man in his 40s died after the car he was driving collided with a wall in Donegal.

Gardai appealed for witnesses following the single-vehicle crash at 8.50am on New Year's Day on the Ballybofey to Fintown Road at Dooish. The victim was taken by ambulance to Letterkenny Regional Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

He was named locally as Packie Gildea (39), a single farmer from Straboy. He was a brother of former Donegal inter-county player John Gildea.

GoSafe, the private company which operates the speed camera system, is moving the devices to new stretches of road, while city and county councils will put up signs to alert drivers to the new locations.

It is the first major reorganisation of the camera network since it was introduced two years ago.

Road Safety Authority (RSA) spokesman Brian Farrell insisted the system is not about "generating revenue" but is about forcing drivers to slow down on the roads.

In 2012, there was a 40pc reduction in pedestrian deaths, with the number falling from 47 in 2011 to 28 last year.

GoSafe speed camera vans were rolled out in November 2010 and the system had been fully implemented within months.

The authorities credit the initiative with saving 32 lives last year as well as preventing 100 serious injuries. The cameras, which provide 6,000 hours of footage a month, are mainly deployed during the night when you male drivers are at highest risk of crashing.

RSA chairman Gay Byrne said the relocated cameras will "tackle" different parts of the country, adding that they hope drivers are "getting the message to slow down".

Some 176,730 drivers were caught speeding up to the end of September. The number of people killed on Irish roads last year was down 51 on the figure for 2010.

Mr Byrne pointed out a person was being killed very day on Irish roads in 2006 and six years later the figure had dropped to three lives lost a week

RSA chief executive Noel Brett said 2013 will be another challenging year but will see the launch of a new road safety strategy and the introduction of a new plastic card driving licence.

comurphy@herald.ie