FATAL traffic accidents across County Kildare have risen by more than a third so far this year.
Fourteen lives have been lost on the roads up to last weekend.
By contrast there were a total of ten road accidents resulting in the loss of life for all of 2010.
However according to Garda Inspector Jim Doyle the number of serious injury accidents has more than halved from the 2010 figure of 26.
Despite an increase in the number of checkpoints mounted by the gardai there has been a fall in the rate of drink driving detections – suggesting that motorists are less likely to drive having consumed alcohol.
“The number of pedestrians killed so far amounts to 10 and this is worrying. This figure is unprecedented,” Inspector Doyle said at the start of the Christmas Road Safety Campaign on Friday at the Osprey Hotel, Naas.
The campaign launch coincided with the unveiling of Kildare County Council’s road safety plan 2012-2015.
Both the local authority and the gardai have been distributing high visibility vests to schools, community groups and to pubs in a bid to ensure that pedestrians walking late at night can be seen.
Garda patrols cars have also been stocked with high viz vests which will be offered to people wearing dark clothing at night.
Additionally staffing levels within the Garda Traffic Corps in County Kildare remains unchanged despite the level of retirements, the public service staff recruitment embargo and spending cuts.
Many other traffic units around Ireland have lost personnel.
Some parents of young people who have died in road crashes attended the launch – Tina and David Fitzgerald, Reggie Lalor and Oliver Moyles. Providing a poignant reminder of the human tragedy behind the statistics.
The authorities hope that the first year of the new plan (2012) will see the number of road fatalities cut to 8.
Kildare County Council road safety officer Declan Keogh was also concerned about level of deaths among those walking.
“Pedestrian fatalities are needless and can be avoided - people should wear reflective material and carry a torch.
The gardai have an extensive road network to police in County Kildare. The total road network measures 2,250 kilometres and this includes 127 kms of motorway.
The worst year for fatal accidents in county Kildare was during 2006 when 23 people lost their lives.