Jim Higgins MEP for Ireland North West has expressed his concern at the sharp increase in road deaths over the month of January 2011 compared to the same month last year.
Speaking at the European Parliament in Brussels, Mr Higgins said: “Last year was the best year on record for road deaths in Ireland, with a total of 212 deaths. This of course is 212 deaths too many, but at least we were heading in the right direction. I am deeply concerned by these new figures which show that deaths are up 35 per cent nationally for the month of January.
“Whether public service cut-backs are leading to less gardaí being available to enforce our rules, or whether it is just complacency on the part of motorists, we must stay focused on cutting the carnage.”
Mr Higgins then sounded a stark warning: “I remember that when penalty points were introduced in 2003, there was an immediate, sharp, decrease in deaths. There was a feeling that we were moving in the right direction, so that was enough. But the eye was taken off the ball, and sure enough, after year one, we saw the figures rise to pre-penalty point levels.”
Mr Higgins praised the work of Noel Brett CEO of the Road Safety Authority, which he said “moved mountains” to ensure that the numbers of families suffering heartbreak has almost halved since 2005.