Concerned road chiefs have issued a plea to young rally fans about being extra careful on the county’s roads ahead of this weekend’s Donegal International Rally.
This weekend marks the 50th anniversary of the event and large crowds are expected into the county.
The Donegal Road Safety Working Group have issued a road safety appeal to everyone attending the event saying the one essential ingredient required for everyone’s safety is personal responsibility.
A spokesperson said “True motorsport fans come and go to rally events and no one would ever know they attended.
“But unfortunately these events also attract a cohort who attend these events whose driving, and behaviour leave a lasting negative impact on the local community.
“Although those who engage in these activities may regard them as ‘fun’, this view is not shared by the communities who must endure this disruptive behaviour.”
Garda Inspector Seamus McGonigle pleaded with what he called a “small minority” not to put others at risk.
He said “Young drivers are unfortunately classed as high risk takers and we are appealing to parents to make sure that their sons and daughters get sufficient driving experience and that the vehicles they are driving are road worthy.
“Driving too fast, travelling at night, with passengers in the car, not wearing seatbelts, driving after taking alcohol or drugs, are often a lethal combination and young motorists are constantly taking risks behind the wheel.
“We need to stress how important the road safety messages are. High speed sport takes place in a controlled environment with all the protections in place.
“Unfortunately, there is a small minority who drive dangerously, have no interest in the rally and are putting their lives and the lives of other road users in danger”.
Brian O’Donnell, Road Safety Officer, Donegal County Council said: “Large numbers will arrive in Donegal to attend the rally and also to enjoy everything this magnificent county has to offer and we want to emphasise the importance of safety, both on the rally course and on the public roads.
“Followers of the rally need to be reminded to watch the stages from safety areas, always stay within the speed limits and reduce speed in inclement weather conditions and allow plenty of time to arrive safely at your destination.
“We appeal to all rally fans to be cautious, use the road responsibly and be courteous to all road users.
“The Gardai will be out in force this weekend and we support them in taking a zero tolerance with anyone showing disregard for the rules of the road. It falls on every one of us to ensure our roads are safe for all road users. Please keep the race in its place”.
There have been 80 deaths to date in 2022, this is an increase of 33 when compared to the same period in 2021.
It is also an increase of 16 on the same period in 2019, which is a more comparable year, pre Covid.
On Donegal roads, 4 people have lost their lives to date in 2022, compared to 1 for the same period in 2021.