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Tuesday 30 May 2023 Dublin: 16°C
Sam Boal
# Rules of the road
Some drivers exploiting quieter roads and behaving 'recklessly' during Covid-19 emergency
There have been five deaths on Irish roads so far in April.

A FALL OFF in the the number of vehicles on Irish roads due to the Covid-19 has led to some drivers behaving “recklessly” and disobeying the rules of the road, according to those working in the area of road safety. 

Anecdotal evidence of road users breaking speed limits and skipping through red lights have begun to emerge in recent weeks as Covid-19 restrictions, limiting the public’s movement, has significantly reduced traffic volumes. 

Yesterday, Dublin City Council tweeted at motorists to reduce their speed and to stop breaking red lights in the capital and as the Covid-19 measures look set to continue into the coming weeks and months, there are concerns that motorists will continue to break the rules of the road across the country. 

So far there have been five fatalities on Irish roads in April and 52 deaths in total so far this year – up five compared to the same period last year. 

Gardaí have also shared stories of motorists “driving in excess of the speed limit” in recent days.

Brian Farrell of the Road Safety Authority said this is a major concern as road traffic accidents, which could have been avoided, are also diverting essential emergency services away from providing care in other areas during the pandemic. 

“We’ve heard anecdotal evidence that with the reduced number of vehicles on the road, there is a minority who see this as opportunity to drive recklessly and to speed,” he said. 

“With people out walking and cycling within the 2km of their home, it poses greater risks and it’s something we are concerned about and we are in discussions with gardaí about joint messaging on this.

“We have to ensure we are practicing good road safety habits as well because if we don’t we’re going to end up burdening a health service which is trying to clear the decks to deal with the public health emergency.”

He added: “we are saying this because it’s usually in the context of the right thing to do but it’s taken on an added resonance because of the current pandemic.”

Conor Faughnan, consumer affairs director with the AA has also raised concerns about complacency setting in among road users. 

“I am hearing from cyclists who are reporting people behaving in that way and this is a strange situation but you still have to obey the rules of the road,” he said. 

“It may well be the mere strangeness of the situation that you will have motorists, or cyclists or pedestrians, who are not paying attention to the road around them or think the rules of the road are not important. 

“And it is poor behaviour if that is the case with cyclists or pedestrians but its a more significant sign of poor behaviour if it’s a motorist.”

Faughnan warned that road users needed to ensure they were not becoming complacent while out and about during the public health crisis as it continues into the coming weeks and months. 

“The current situation is surreal and it is probably making concentration harder,” he said.

“Everything about using the road feels a little strange and unusual and these sorts of concentration errors or being complacent about traffic it is likely to be the case, and we must be careful about that.” 

Gardaí have also been manning additional checkpoints across the country during the Covid-19 emergency in a bid to halt travel and reduce the spread of the virus. 

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