Traffic chief vows policing will continue

Eamonn McFadden

Reporter:

Eamonn McFadden

The head of Donegal’s Garda Traffic Corps has vowed to continue policing the county’s roads despite fears raised that a reduction in Traffic Corps numbers could result in a rise in road death figures.

The head of Donegal’s Garda Traffic Corps has vowed to continue policing the county’s roads despite fears raised that a reduction in Traffic Corps numbers could result in a rise in road death figures.

Last year was a record low in Donegal road deaths with six fatalities being recorded compared to 19 in 2010.

While not commenting on the speculation, Donegal Traffic Corps Chief, Inspector Michael Harrison, said: “Whatever decision is made or whatever format is there, policing will continue.”

Fears the record low number of roads deaths experienced in 2011 will not be repeated if Traffic Corp numbers are cut were expressed earlier this week by North West MEP, Jim Higgins.

He warned that unless there is an increase in the number of Gardai patrolling the roads, the record low of 2011 will not be achieved again this year.

He said the sight of Gardai patrolling our roads promotes an “instant reaction” that encourages safer driving.

The MEP said: “We’ve come a long way in just six years since the Road Safety Authority (RSA) was set up. Fellow MEPs on the Transport Committee have asked me during the last two years what exactly Ireland has done to cut the carnage. I tell them that there is no one magic solution to road safety, rather a range of measures such as hard hitting ads, education campaigns, changes to the law, improved infrastructure, the RSA, but above all better respect for the rules of the road by drivers through more visible enforcement by the Garda Traffic Corps. We all have that instant reaction when we see a Garda car to check our speed, and to double-check everyone is belted up.” “In 2011, 186 people were killed on the nation’s roads, compared to 212 in 2010, making Ireland’s roads the second safest in the EU just behind Malta. The problem facing us now is how do we continue to reduce the death rate further?”

Six deaths in the county in 2011 marked a significant decrease over the last decade and contrasted sharply with recent years. Figures from the RSA for the last decade show the number of deaths reached a peak in 2004 with 29 deaths. Since then the figures have been on a downward trend. They dropped to 14 in 2009, but jumped to 19 last year when eight people were killed in the one accident in Inishowen.