Roads safer but more to be done
Provisional road casualty figures for 2012 published this week show that a total of 161 people tragically lost their lives on Irish roads in 2012. This is 25 fewer fatalities compared to 186 deaths last year and 51 fewer deaths compared to 2010 when 212 people lost their lives on the roads.
Road deaths have now fallen every year since 2006. Furthermore, it is also the fifth year in a row that a new record low for fatalities in this country has been achieved.
The third Road Safety Strategy 2007 to 2012, which will be replaced in early 2013 with a new eight year strategy, set a target of reducing road deaths to no more than 252 deaths per annum by the end of 2012. Not only was this target achieved ahead of schedule in 2009, it was significantly surpassed. Since the beginning of 2007, there has been a 56 per cent decrease in road deaths. While the total number of serious injuries sustained in crashes in 2012 is not yet available, there has been a 51 per cent reduction in these injuries up to the end of 2011.
“For the seventh year in a row, the number of people killed on the roads has dropped. In 2012, the loss of life was the lowest ever recorded. The ongoing effort to reduce the tragedy of road deaths is working. Further key road safety measures will be implemented this year, and the new Road Safety strategy will be published. But this change really comes down to the efforts of every single road user. We can never forget those who lost their lives on the roads in 2012, but next year we can take it a step further. I urge everyone to change one thing about their behaviour on the roads next year. It will make a difference,” Minister for Transport Tourism & Sport Leo Varadkar, said.
Commenting on the release of the provisional figures, Mr Gay Byrne, Chairman, Road Safety Authority, said, “At the end of 2006, the year before the third Road Safety Strategy was launched, we were losing a life on the road every single day. Six years later and this has dropped to three lives lost every week. So, as a result of your actions, the road-using public, you are preventing four deaths every week now compared to 2006. While one death is one too many, this is an extraordinary achievement and something of which you should all be very proud. The challenge now is to build on this success. We have three more lives a week to save.”
“We know we can do better because countries like Sweden, the UK and the Netherlands have done it. The task begins with the development and publication of the new Road Safety Strategy, which will cover the period 2013 to 2020. Key elements of this new strategy will focus on serious injury reduction, tackling repeat road traffic offenders and developing more forgiving roads. While government agencies will work tirelessly to implement this new strategy, ultimately, if we want safer roads, only you can get us there.”
RSA Chief Executive, Mr Noel Brett, paid tribute to the work of the Gardaí and emergency services, saying it is important to acknowledge and thank those on the front line in road safety.
“2013 will be another challenging year, but one which the board and staff of the RSA are looking forward to as it will see the launch of a new Road Safety Strategy, the introduction of a new plastic card driving licence, the transformation of the Commercial Vehicle Roadworthiness Testing system, and Ireland’s presidency of the European Union, which will include the hosting of a major EU conference on road safety in March 2013.”
Commissioner of An Garda Síochána Mr Martin Callinan added: “We wish to thank all road users who have made a conscious and positive change to both their attitudes and behaviour on our roads. This change has resulted in another record low in terms of road safety in Ireland. This is evident in particular in our drink driving arrests, which are down for the fifth year in a row, whilst there have been more Garda Mandatory Alcohol Checkpoints in 2012, compared to 2011. In 2007, the rate of detection was approximately 1 in 25, now it’s approximately 1 in 50. This clearly shows increased compliance by responsible members of the public.”
Commissioner Callinan continued: “Although we have saved 25 lives compared to 2011, we can all do more to reduce fatalities and serious injuries for 2013 and beyond. In 2012, we identified Sunday as being the most dangerous day of the week on our roads, and in particular between 4pm and 6pm. To some, Sunday is a day of leisure but this fact serves as a reminder to all that collisions can happen to anyone at any time. We all must remember that complacency can cost lives.”