Irish motorists drive on the wrong side of the country’s motorways on a daily basis – prompting a new road safety campaign.

Ireland’s Road Safety Authority Chief Executive Noel Brett has admitted that motorists on the wrong side of the motorways are now a ‘daily occurrence’.

The new Limerick motorway alone can feature up to 20 such incidents a month according to Brett while police have confirmed that the most dangerous Irish drivers on motorways are middle-aged and older drivers.

The claims were made at the launch of the new Road Safety Campaign on Monday when it was confirmed that three pedestrians and three car-users have already died on Irish motorways this year compared to four pedestrians and two car-users for the whole of 2010.

“These figures mean that we have to launch this campaign,” said Harry Cullen, senior project manager with the National Roads Authority.

“The motorway network has grown massively from 300km in 2006 to 1,187km, and many people simply do not know how to use it safely.”

RSA chief Brett added that many of the two and a half million driving licence holders in Ireland have no formal driving instruction with older drivers liable to drive in a manner not suitable for motorways.

“If someone misses their exit they may feel it is okay to do a U-turn, or try and reverse back. One simply cannot do that in the high-speed environment of a motorway,” said Brett.

According to police, the most common and dangerous practices on the motorways were driving or reversing in the wrong direction, driving or parking on the hard shoulder for unnecessary reasons such as seeing to a child, and walking on motorways.

Chief Superintendent Gabriel McIntyre of the Garda National Traffic Bureau said: “On one new stretch of motorway, the approach road to the toll plaza at the Limerick tunnel – which goes under the Shannon – there are 20 incidents a month of people driving against the flow of traffic.

“To do that they would have to ignore six warning signs. This is really alarming.”

A new 40-second ad will run on TV and in cinemas and focuses on lane discipline, overtaking and what to do when a car breaks down on a motorway while further ad focusing on not driving the wrong way on a motorway is also due.

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