Road death toll is rising
Gardaí have described 2023 as a “very bad year” for road deaths in Cork.
Ten people have lost their lives on Cork roads so far in 2023, an increase of two fatalities during the same period of last year.
Of the ten fatal accidents, six occurred in the Cork North Garda division, two in the Cork West division, and two in Cork city.
Three of the fatalities in Cork North were pedestrians. Two were killed in Charleville and one in Midleton.
Last year saw 13 people die on Cork roads in total, with 155 road fatalities recorded nationally. Last year’s national road death total represents an increase of over 13% on 2021.
So far, 130 people have died on Irish roads in 2023, an increase of 25 lives lost in the same period of 2022.
At Monday’s joint policing committee (JPC) meeting for Cork county, Chief Supt Vincent O'Sullivan of the Cork North and West Garda Divisions offered his “deepest sympathies” to the families of people killed on Cork’s roads. “Sadly, it's been a very bad year so far for road deaths,” he said.
“It just shows the unpredictability and the ruthlessness of the roads and how unforgiving they are.”
This year’s latest road fatality figures coincide with a notable increase in the number people being caught driving while intoxicated on Cork roads.
In Cork city, 201 driving while intoxicated offences, which include drug driving, have occurred so far this year, up from 178 in 2022. In Cork North, 219 offences were recorded, up from 211. Cork West was the only division to see a drop, going from 132 to 112.
Chief Supt O'Sullivan said new swabs used by gardaí have been very effective in detecting drug driving offences which previously wouldn’t have been detected.
Speaking at Monday’s JPC, Macroom Cllr Michael Looney (FF) said he feels most of the “carnage” on Irish roads over the past few months has involved young people and that speed was the “common denominator”.
He also suggested that young drivers may not fully grasp that a car’s speed should be adjusted in accordance with conditions as well as the legal speed limit on a given stretch of road.
“The driving test is done under ideal conditions,” said the councillor.
“They have their test got, and they go out the country in rural Ireland and they see an 80km speed limit and they think that because they don't break the limit, they can do it the whole way. “Some of them roads you can't even drive at 30kmph.
“60km or 80km limits are grand but there's more to it than that,” he added.
Cllr Looney, who works in the motor trade, went on to suggest that electric cars also pose a danger to young drivers due to their swift acceleration and relative silence compared to traditional petrol engines.
He said: “The brother-in-law bought a new electric car there a couple of months back, not a big one. I drove it and there is one thing sure; I wouldn't give it to any youngster until they are 25 or 26 years of age. From naught to 100 - you'd get it in a flash. The speed is unreal.”
This week, the Road Safety Authority (RSA) launched the Who was Mary Ward? Vision Zero campaign which calls on the public to work together so we see our last road death in Ireland.
The RSA is asking all road users to change their own behaviour to make Irish roads safer for all. Vision Zero is a worldwide commitment that aims for no road deaths or serious injuries on Irish roads by 2050.
The campaign centres around the story of Mary Ward (1827–1869) who was the first person in the world to be killed in an automobile incident. Her life was cut short when she fell under the wheels of the motor vehicle she was travelling in at Birr, Co. Offaly in 1869.
The campaign followed National Slow Down Day on 4 September, a nationwide 24 hour speed enforcement operation carried out by An Garda Síochána and the RSA.