BY CRONAN SCANLON
DONEGAL Gardai will launch their biggest road safety blitz in years tomorrow (Saturday) while also urging motorists to slow down this June Bank Holiday weekend.
From 7am (Friday) to 7am tomorrow, An Garda Síochána, along with other stakeholders, will run operation “Slow Down”.
However, Traffic Inspector for Donegal, Michael Harrison, said the intense campaign would be followed by ‘Operation Focus’ which will commence tomorrow in the Northern Garda Division and continue through to July 31.
The objectives of the operation are to raise awareness of peoples’ driving habits as well as the condition of their vehicles.
He also stressed that they will be targeting HGV drivers and owners in multi-agency checkpoints manned by personnel from the Road Safety Authority (RSA), Health and Safety Authority (HSA), Garda PSV inspectors and waste management.
Inspector Harrison said the Northern Division, and Donegal in particular, is being targeted due to the high number of fatalities here during the summer months.
“Historically, the most serious incidents happen in the month of July and, in particular, in Donegal,” he explained.
“Some of the worst ever fatal collisions occurred in Donegal during July. It is the middle of summer time, the weather is good and people take chances.
“People will notice a marked increase in high visibility checkpoints all across Donegal during June and July. There will be extra emphasis on road traffic offences and minor breaches will be dealt with by on the spot fines while the more serious ones will end up in court.”
The Northern Region also includes Sligo, Leitrim, Cavan, Monaghan and Louth. Inspector Harrison added that, nationally, road deaths are up for the first five months of this year.
For the past seven years, there had been a year on year decrease in the number of road fatalities in Ireland.
However, as we move into the second half of 2013, there have been 11 more fatalities, nationally, on our roads than at this time last year.
This brings to 75, the number of people killed to date.
In Donegal, four people have so far been killed on our roads this year.
Garda Assistant Commissioner Gerard Phillips launched ‘Operation Slow Down’ on Wednesday.
The objectives of the operation are to raise awareness of the dangers of inappropriate and excessive speed, reduce the number of speed related collisions, and therefore save lives and reduce injuries on our roads.
“We are asking all drivers to make a conscious decision this Friday to ‘Slow Down’ to help save lives,” he stressed.
“When you are faced with adverse weather, road or traffic conditions, the most effective way to keep safe is to slow down and give yourself more time to adapt to all that is happening around you.
“We are appealing to all vehicle drivers and riders to keep within the speed limits, and when necessary, slow down,” he said.
All road users are encouraged to report any incidents of dangerous or reckless driving to Traffic Watch on 1890 205 805.