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New road safety plea as deaths match last year despite covid lockdown

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The launch of the new road safety campaign in Dublin

The launch of the new road safety campaign in Dublin

The launch of the new road safety campaign in Dublin

Road safety chiefs have pleaded for maximum safety from motorists, cyclists and pedestrians as the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown gradually eases.

The plea came amid mounting concern over a spiral of accidents on Irish roads as traffic volumes increase.

Ireland recorded the same number of deaths this year (64) as last year, despite three months of massively reduced traffic volumes.

The country has recorded the same level of traffic fatalities to June 10 this year as to June 10, 2019, despite a 70pc drop in traffic volumes between March and June.

Four people have died on Irish roads this month - a person dying on average every 48 hours.

Deaths this year have included drivers (25), passengers (11), pedestrians (18), motorcyclists (8) and cyclists (2). The greatest increases in deaths have occurred with pedestrians (+6) and motorcyclists (+3).

The Road Safety Authority, gardai and Transport Minister Shane Ross have united to launch a new safety campaign dubbed: "We're back on the road - make it a safe one."

It is hoped the campaign will reinforce the safe travel message as traffic volumes on Irish roads soar as pandemic restrictions are eased.

Surge

Major concern is focused on the fact a significantly larger number of cyclists are now on Irish roads following a surge in bike sales during the pandemic.

Motorists have also been urged to conduct detailed safety and roadworthiness tests on vehicles which may have been parked up for three months.

"People have done so much over the last three months to tackle the coronavirus, save lives and protect public health," Mr Ross said.

"The commitment we have seen across the country has been extraordinary.

"But road safety is also a public health issue and we need to see the same commitment from all road users to saving lives on our roads.

"We know from the data that most road deaths are preventable - most collisions are as a result of human behaviour.

"So just as we have adapted our behaviour in the face of a pandemic, we must be prepared to change our behaviour to meet the challenges with more of us walking and cycling on the road."

RSA chairperson Liz O'Donnell urged drivers to slow down and take greater care.

"In the run-up to Covid-19 travel restrictions being put in place, we saw a spike in road traffic collisions," she said.

"In fact, over the six days from March 17 to 22, there were nine people killed on the roads. I am concerned that this may be repeated as travel restrictions are gradually lifted.

"In the period covered by the start of Government measures [March 13] up to June 7, 2020, the end of Phase 1, there were 26 fatalities compared to 35 over the same period in 2019. This is nine less deaths.

"While fewer people were killed during the period of restrictions, the level of road deaths was unacceptably high.

"As the restrictions are relaxed, it is more important than ever that we share the roads safely."