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Conor Feehan: 'Donegal seems to endure more than its fair share of horror on roads'

What is it about Donegal that makes us think ‘not again’ when we hear of a tragic road crash?

On the face of it the county seems to have the worst statistics when it comes to road deaths, but in actual fact other counties currently have a worse record when it comes to road deaths.

Figures from the Road Safety Authority (RSA) show that Cork and Dublin had 16 road deaths each last year, followed by Tipperary with 11, and then Donegal with 10.

In 2017 Dublin had 23 road deaths, followed by Cork with 14, Mayo with 12, Louth with 10, Meath with 9, Kerry and Monaghan with eight, Limerick and Wexford with seven, and then Donegal with six along with Kildare.

Figures aside, the county seems to endure more than its fair share of multiple fatalities arising from these collisions.

And tragically, on many occasions, young lives are lost.

The horror of one collision – which claimed the lives of eight men – still resonates in our consciousness nearly a decade later.

It was a July day in 2010 when eight people’s lives were lost near Buncrana when a black VW Passat with seven young men collided with a car driven by a 66-year-old man returning from bingo.

In 2014 Shaun Kelly (26), of Hill Road, Ballymagan, Buncrana, was sentenced to four years in prison with two suspended, and was disqualified from driving for 10 years, after pleading guilty to dangerous driving causing the deaths.

More recently, in July 2016, three friends died in a head-on collision in Corravaddy. Three months later, another two women died in a collision in Ballybofey.

And last year a young man and woman in their 20s were killed when their car hit a wall and a lamppost in Bundoran.

Two teens died in a crash in Inishowen in April 2017.

We don’t know yet what caused the crash that killed four young friends in Gortahork last Sunday night.

The garda investigation will take time and we can’t jump to any conclusions.

Roads are bad in many areas of the county, including where the latest tragedy occurred, and its geography means that across west Donegal a lot of roads bend around and over bog hills with no lighting.

Emergency services too have far to travel on the same roads before they can get to an accident scene.

Last year saw a reduction in road death figures nationwide after 150 died compared to 158 in 2017.

It was actually the safest year since road death figures were first recorded in 1959 – but this will offer little solace to four grieving families in Donegal today.

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