A motorist was arrested following a garda chase yesterday after he drove the wrong way along a busy dual-carriageway in Co Clare.
Three other vehicles were damaged but their occupants escaped serious injury after they tried to avoid the oncoming and speeding Mercedes car.
The alarm was raised at around 9.30am when gardaí received as many 20 calls from motorists reporting the vehicle travelling the wrong way along the N18 Limerick to Galway road near Bunratty.
The car was reported to have been driving at speed and erratically and changing from the inner lane to the outer overtaking lane.
A car travelling in the overtaking lane swerved at the last second to avoid the oncoming vehicle and collided with another car in the inside lane. The Mercedes continued travelling in the direction of Shannon without stopping.
The occupants of both cars escaped injury while soon afterwards, another driver had a lucky escape after his car collided with the median barrier while trying to avoid the speeding Mercedes.
As gardaí raced to intercept the car, further calls were made to the 999/112 emergency number reporting the vehicle had changed over to the correct north bound lanes of the N18 dual-carriageway before joining the M18 motorway near Shannon.
A motorcycle garda spotted the speeding Mercedes and gave chase. The garda, with his sirens blaring and blue lights flashing, pulled alongside the vehicle and indicated to the driver to pull over. The driver failed to do so.
The Mercedes continued to junction 15 at Crusheen where he left the motorway while still being pursued by the motorcycle garda.
The driver travelled up a country road before he was forced to stop in a cul-de-sac. As additional garda resources arrived, the man was taken from his car and arrested.
He was taken to Ennis garda station for questioning while the incident is still being investigated.
In 2012, an elderly man drove over 10 kilometres on the wrong side of the same section of the N18 and only the quick actions of other motorists avoided causing a massive pile-up .
In October 2009, a 72-year-old woman was killed after she mistakingly drove almost 5 kilometres on the wrong side of the N18 (now M18) near Ennis.
Two years later, the National Roads Authority (NRA) installed new vehicle activated warning signs, on a trial basis, at junctions 13 and 14 on the M18 in an effort to cut down on the incidence of wrong-way or ‘ghost’ drivers.