A positive reflection in the public’s attitude to road safety is evident in new statistics released which show there is a decline in the number of serious and non serious injuries sustained on Mayo roads during 2009.
Noel Gibbons, road safety officer with Mayo County Council, told the Mayo Advertiser that there has been a significant drop in people seriously injured on our roads (from 28 in 2008 to 19 in 2009 ). Non serious injuries also reduced from 187 in 2008 to 148 in 2009, and there was also a reduction in drink driving charges in the county with 458 drink driving arrests in Mayo in 2008 and 337 in 2009. However, there has been no reduction in fatalities on our roads from 2008 to 2009 as 10 people lost their lives in both years.
Mr Gibbons said that the reduction in injuries sustained is good news as often a serious injury could lead to a fatality, but the road safety officer appealed for people to always wear their seatbelts and to stop using mobile phones while driving.
Nationally, according to the Road Safety Authority, last year was the safest year on Ireland’s roads since road deaths were first recorded in 1959.
A total of 240 people tragically lost their lives on Irish roads in 2009. This is 39 fewer fatalities or a 14 per cent reduction compared to 279 deaths the previous year.
In 2009 the Government’s road safety target of achieving no more than 252 deaths a year by the end of 2012 was also achieved, three years ahead of schedule.
“There are 39 people alive and well today because road users made better choices in 2009,” said RSA chairman Gay Byrne. “Choices not to speed, not to drive while tired, and to wear a high visibility jacket when walking. I want to pay tribute to the decent people of this country who have changed their attitudes and their behaviour for the better. We truly have an emerging culture of road safety in Ireland. For that the credit goes to road users. Your choices have saved lives and prevented injuries. Well done and please keep up your efforts in 2010.”
Mr Byrne went on to extend his sympathy to those who lost loved ones on the roads. “To those families who have lost loved ones I pledge that the Road Safety Authority will continue working to save lives so that others will never have to feel the pain and heartbreak you now cope with every day.”
Sounding a note of caution Mr Byrne added: “The improvements we have made will not be sustained if we don’t continue to introduce the other vital measures contained in the Government’s road safety strategy.
“The risks that people face, on a daily basis, will not disappear just because the country is in recession. Death and injury on the roads doesn’t discriminate.
“The biggest challenge facing us now is to change the culture of speeding in this country through enforcement and educational campaigns. The introduction of a network of safety cameras across the country in mid 2010 will play a leading role in tackling this problem,” concluded Mr Byrne.
Some of the key provisional statistics for 2009 include:
Forty per cent of road deaths were under 25 years of age.
Forty nine per cent of road deaths occurred at the weekend.
Sunday was the most dangerous day of the week with 51 road deaths.
The hours between 6pm and 8pm were the most dangerous, with 30 deaths (13 per cent ).
The average monthly fatality rate was 20 in 2009 compared to 23 in 2008 and 28 in 2007.
The safest month of the year was September when 13 deaths occurred. This is also the safest month on record.