Co-driver killed at Donegal rally

A man in his 30s has been killed in a crash at the Donegal International car rally.

He was the co-driver of a car that crashed on a bad bend between Fanad and Ramelton this afternoon.

The event has been suspended and a decision will be made later this evening if it will resume tomorrow.

  This is the first time a competitor has been killed in the rally. In 2008, a spectator was killed and in 2002 two stewards were killed.

The Topaz Donegal International Rally is one of the biggest sporting events taking place in the country this weekend with an estimated 70,000 spectators expected in the county for the three-day.

This is the 38th rally and it was expected to generate €25m.

Ireland’s new car sales already exceed 2009 figure

The Society of the Irish Motor Industry says new car sales so far this year have already exceeded the total for 2009.

Just over 57,000 new cars were bought last year, the lowest number in many years.

However, the industry says it is already exceeded that figure in the first five months of 2010.

It is now thought that up to 80,000 new cars will be sold this year.

Director General of the Society of the Irish Motor Industry, Alan Nolan, says the scrappage scheme has helped to kick start things.

Final section of Dublin to Cork motorway opens

The final section of the new Dublin to Cork motorway will be opened later today in Co Laois – bypassing the towns of Abbeyleix, Durrow and Cullahill.

Three notorious bottlenecks on the Dublin to Limerick route will also be left behind with the opening of a section of the new M7 motorway.

However motorists will face toll charges on journeys that could be shortened by up to 45 minutes at peak times.

It has been under construction for three years – costing almost €500m to build.

The new M7-M8 motorway will open to traffic at 4pm this afternoon four months ahead of schedule and bypassing six of the country’s worst traffic bottlenecks.

The Dublin to Cork section that is now complete could save up to three quarters of an hour from journeys at peak time.

The Limerick end will not be finished until later in the year but today’s opening means the bypassing of one of the most lethal stretches of roadway in the country between Mountrath and Borris-on-Ossory where more than 30 lives have been lost.

The toll charge for cars will €1.80 – bringing in expected daily revenue of over €30,000 from today.

35,000 drivers caught using mobile phone in Ireland

Gardaí and the Road Safety Authority have said that people are not getting the message about the dangers of using mobile phones while driving.

Last year 35,000 people were given penalty points for this offence, the highest since the ban on using mobile phones was introduced in September 2006.

That makes it the biggest penalty point offence behind speeding.

A study by the Road Safety Authority has found that one in five people admit using their phone while driving. One in ten admits texting when they are behind the wheel.

Research shows that texters spend 400% more time with their eyes off the road.

Those who use mobiles when driving are four times more likely to be involved in a collision.

The study also says that using a hands-free kit while driving is not any safer than a handheld mobile.

Irish Motorists warned of 60km oil spill

Motorists in Wexford and Waterford have been advised to take care because of an oil spill on the N25.

The spill stretches for over 60km from the M25 near the toll plaza in Waterford City and onto the N25 to New Ross and into Wexford town.

AA Roadwatch said that road conditions are extremely slippery, particularly at roundabouts outside New Ross and Wexford.

The local councils have been informed of the spill.

Ireland – 73% increase in new cars year-on-year

New figures from the Central Statistics Office show that there was a 73% increase in the number of new private cars registered in April, compared to the same month last year.

There were 9,599 new cars were officially registered in April 2010, compared to 5,558 in April 2009.

The bulk of the new cars, some 65%, were diesel, while 30% were petrol, with less than 1% petrol and electric hybrid.

Volkswagen was the most popular make during April, with 1,222 cars registered, followed by Renault, Toyota and Ford.

The number of new goods vehicles registered in April was also up compared to the same month last year – although only by 8%.

Motorists warned of heavy may bank holiday traffic

Motorists have been warned of a busy weekend ahead as schools break for the May Bank Holiday and thousands of holidaymakers take to the roads.

Traffic volumes are expected to pick up this afternoon and with some heavy showers expected, motorists are advised to exercise caution.

Gardaí say there will be a particular focus this weekend on the enforcement of drink-driving legislation, speeding and breaches of the road transport legislation.

Officers will also focus on the need for motorcyclists to be conscious of safety.

The Road Safety Authority has also appealed to road users to take extra care on the roads this weekend.

The RSA said that 28 people have died and 50 seriously injured in May Bank Holiday crashes since 2005.

Minister for Transport Noel Dempsey said: ‘As we approach a busy bank holiday weekend, I want to remind everyone that the statistics on road safety speak for themselves.

‘I urge everyone, (irrespective of the length of your journey), to please take care if you are driving, walking or cycling on our roads.’

Elsewhere, more than 208,000 passengers are expected to travel through Dublin Airport over the course of the weekend.

Over 1,800 flights will arrive and depart during the period, including 70 charters.

Iarnród Éireann and Bus Éireann also expect an increase in passenger numbers.