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Traffic volumes at 85% of pre-pandemic levels after inter-county travel resumes

The AA has said that there has been a 36% increase in traffic incidents following easing of inter-county travel restrictions.

Heavy traffic on the N7 motorway heading in to Dublin from the south of the country.
Heavy traffic on the N7 motorway heading in to Dublin from the south of the country.
Image: Eamonn Farrell

ROAD USERS HAVE been warned to be careful on the roads, as the recent lifting of Covid-19 restrictions to allow for inter-county travel has seem a “significant spike” in traffic volumes and incidents on the nation’s roads.

The AA has said that there has been a 36% increase in traffic incidents following easing of inter-county travel restrictions, and traffic volumes are back to 85% of pre-pandemic levels.

The M11 and M1 have seen the greatest increase in volumes.

“We reported a further increase of 36% in traffic incidents on the roads last week, the first week of intercounty travel,” said AA Roadwatch Deputy Editor Lauren Beehan.

“The average weekly incidents reported by AA Roadwatch has now nearly doubled since the 5km radius was lifted on April 12th.”

Last week, the traffic news team reported 63 traffic incidents on Ireland’s roads, up from 34 in an average week during the 5km restriction period and 46 per week in April, when travel was opened to within one’s county.

AA Roadwatch has also reported an increase in congestion, especially in the morning, with city traffic picking up a bit earlier. Furthermore, with the increased traffic on the roads, incidents on major routes are now causing more delays and disruption than before, with a knock-on effect on surrounding roads.

20% increase on the M50

Analysis of figures from Transport Infrastructure Ireland’s traffic counters by AA Roadwatch has shown a further increase in traffic volumes to reach 80-85% of pre-pandemic levels on major routes.

Dublin’s M50 has seen a 20% increase in reported traffic volumes since the 5km limit was lifted on April 12th and is now at 87% of Pre-Pandemic volume levels. There were bigger increases on the M11 (+41%) and M1 (+44%), which are in turn now back to 84% of their pre-pandemic levels.

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According to figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO), Public Transport passenger numbers are still dramatically lower than pre-pandemic levels, which could be a reason for increased car journeys.

The AA’s breakdown assistance service has also seen an increase in daily breakdown callouts since the lifting of inter-county restrictions.

So far in May, the AA attended to an average of 237 breakdowns per day, with a peak of 307 per day on Monday of this week, following on from the first weekend of inter-county travel.

The AA has urged motorists to exercise caution as traffic volumes return to normal levels.

“If you are travelling somewhere for the first time in a while, bear in mind that some road layouts have changed, particularly within town and city centres,” said AA Ireland Head of Communications Paddy Comyn.

If driving, be extra mindful of pedestrians and cyclists who may need more room for physical distancing.

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