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Drivers face bank holiday checkpoints after crash deaths soar

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Don’t do it – that’s the advice given by gardaí to anyone thinking of driving to a holiday home outside their 5km limit over the bank holiday weekend.

Speaking at the launch of an appeal for road users to exercise extra caution this weekend, officers warned there would be checkpoints in place after revealing there had been a doubling of pedestrian deaths in the year to date, and a 17pc increase in fatal collisions compared with 2019.

Sixty people have been killed in 56 crashes up to yesterday, compared with 55 deaths in 48 fatal collisions in the same period last year.

“In light of the increase in road deaths this year, An Garda Síochána will launch a roads policing enforcement operation this coming June bank holiday weekend,” said Chief Supt Paul Cleary, of the Garda National Roads Policing Unit.

“The operation will concentrate on the four ‘lifesaver’ offences of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, speeding, non-seatbelt wearing and using a mobile phone while driving.”

Of concern to gardaí is the number of people arrested so far this year for driving under the influence of an intoxicant – either alcohol or drugs.

Even with pubs closed and Covid-19 restrictions in place, and a huge reduction in traffic on the roads, a total of 1,153 people have still been detected driving under the influence of an intoxicant since March 27.

“This weekend there will be increased garda activity and roads policing enforcement across the country,” said Chief Supt Cleary. “This is in response to a significant increase in road fatalities.”

“We want people to enjoy this bank holiday weekend as best they can in difficult circumstances, but we also want every road user to act responsibly and stay safe when using the road.”

Asked if there was a concern that with the bank holiday due to coincide with exceptional weather, and a perception that Covid-19 infection numbers are falling people might be tempted to travel to holiday homes or beaches, Chief Supt Cleary said most people were compliant and aware of why they needed to obey restrictions. “But as regards enforcement, we will be covering all arteries in and out of all major towns and cities,” he said.

“If there is a message to people tempted to travel to holiday homes this weekend, it would be ‘don’t do it’.”

Speaking in relation to the doubling of pedestrian deaths, from nine between January and May 27 last year to 18 for the same period this year, Chief Supt Cleary appealed to people exercising within their 5km limit to be aware of their own personal safety.

“Walk or jog safely and use the pathways where you can. If you are going to have to socially distance from people you come across do it safely and be extra-vigilant and take the time to look and make sure you are safe,” he said.

Ahead of the bank holiday weekend, Transport Minister Shane Ross said he was greatly alarmed at the rise in road deaths this year, particularly pedestrian deaths.

“Road safety is a public health issue and the way we all behave on the road determines whether people live, suffer injury or die,” he said.

Meanwhile, a motorcyclist who died in a road crash with a tractor on the N59 between Mulranny and Newport, Co Mayo, has been named locally as Brendan Heffernan (37).

Mr Heffernan, originally from Creevy, Castlehill, Crossmolina, has been described by friends as “an exceptionally kind, lovely person.” It’s understood he was returning to his home in Westport at the time.

From The Irish independent