The rise in fatalities on the county’s roads is “a worrying trend”, according to the head of Clare’s Road Traffic Division, Inspector John Ryan.
He was speaking as gardaí have issued an urgent appeal this Christmas season advising motorists and road users to drive safely.
To date in 2014, there have been four fatalities in County Clare and five in County Galway. An Garda Síochána have said they want to ensure those numbers do not increase over the Christmas and new-year period.
Commenting on the figures and the Western Region Road Safety Christmas Campaign 2014, which began on December 1 and will conclude on January 4, 2015.
Inspector Ryan said, “We had four fatalities from three road traffic collisions and that’s an increase from two fatalities last year and the previous year. It absolutely is a worrying trend and our aim would be to have zero fatalities and that’s our goal but any increase is something you don’t want to see happening. What I would say is that we will be out over the Christmas period and into the new year and it will be mainly focused on drink driving, no seat belts and mobile phone offences; they will be the main ones. Drink driving is certainly an issue over the Christmas period and I would also say drug driving as well. The new impairment testing is in force and is something that will be taken into account.”
He added that motorists are also advised to be cognisant of changing weather conditions, particularly in cases where there might be early-morning frost and rain.
Inspector Ryan said there is also a morning-after element to the campaign and he advised motorists not to forget that.
“Just because they did everything right the night before doesn’t mean the alcohol will be gone out of their system the following morning. It’s up to [motorists] themselves to be accountable for their actions and to ensure the following morning they have had food and given time for the alcohol to go out of their system, rather than getting into the car first thing in the morning,” he added.
He also issued a warning to provisional drivers that penalty points are in place now if they are detected driving unaccompanied and without L plates.
The campaign will see more than 60 checkpoints carried out per day by local traffic corps across the western region and this is in addition to normal checkpoints by local garda units in Clare.
Also commenting on the campaign, the Western Regional Traffic Superintendent Pat Murray said enforcement of all road traffic legislation will be increased and large urban towns will be given special attention on weekend nights.
“During a two-day period in early December, we conducted an enforcement operation in the region targeting mobile phone offences,” Superintendent Murray said.
As a result of these, 35 people were detected in County Clare and 139 in County Galway.
“The detection results show that people are continuing to use mobile phones while driving, despite repeated warnings. Therefore, our targeted enforcement operations in this and other areas will continue right across the Christmas and new-year period. We would urge all road users to ensure they take responsibility for their safety while using the roads this Christmas and, in particular, pedestrians should ensure that they are visible while out walking. We urge all passengers travelling in vehicles to be aware of the driver’s condition and take action to prevent any accident occurring due to dangerous or careless driving,” he concluded.