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Monday 22 October 2018

M50 mayhem as 5,100 crashes and incidents reported in 21 months

Heavy traffic on the M50
Heavy traffic on the M50

The country's busiest motorway has witnessed more than 5,100 accidents and incidents since the beginning of 2017.

Dublin's M50 ring road has recorded incidents at the rate of more than 240 a month, according to a detailed list provided by Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII).

The events vary from low priority to major incidents, with drivers falling ill at the wheel, wild animals on the road and cases of motorists driving in the wrong direction all reported.

The most common incident was breakdowns, with more than 2,000 in the space of 21 months.

Just over 1,000 crashes were recorded, while there were 643 incidents of dangerous debris being found on the carriageway.

Forty-nine drivers ran out of fuel, while there were 47 cases of wild or pet animals crossing the motorway.

TII also recorded 272 cases where a pedestrian or cyclist was found to be using the M50, and there were 16 reports of dead animals on the carriageway.

Twenty-three incidences of drivers falling seriously ill were recorded, while in 25 cases somebody called for help but there was nobody on the line.

There were also two cases of motorists driving the wrong way on the M50, and three cases of serious anti-social behaviour were recorded.

Other serious incidents included strong winds putting traffic in danger (10 times); 35 cases of vehicles on fire; 121 flat tyres or blow-outs; and 173 instances of cars being abandoned by the side of the road.

Less frequently reported but also listed in the database were spillages, flooding and drivers hopelessly lost and looking for directions.

Of the 5,115 incidents reported, 28 were classified as major.

Collisions

These mostly involved serious collisions, or cars breaking down in dangerous locations, with some incidents lasting up to six hours.

Just over 900 incidents were classified as high priority, most of them breakdowns and crashes.

A total of 2,137 events were categorised as moderate priority, while 1,779 were described as low priority, often involving mechanical failures in cars but where the driver was able to get the vehicle to a safe place on the hard shoulder.

The time of year does not appear to have much impact on how many incidents happen, with numbers fluctuating randomly from month to month.

The worst month was May last year when 320 incidents were recorded, more than 10pc higher than any other similar period.

The Beast from the East in March did not appear to have a significant effect on the numbers of incidents, with 222 recorded that month.

TII spokesman Sean O'Neill said that with 50 million journeys a year, the motorway was no longer simply a ring road.

"Options for increasing cap- acity are not endless, and eventually there comes a point when adding lanes and upgrading junctions is no longer feasible," he said.

Mr O'Neill said incidents on the M50 combined with heavy traffic were a recipe for long delays.

As part of plans to ease congestion, TII is planning to introduce "intelligent transport systems technologies" including variable speed limits as well as lane usage instructions by 2020.

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