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Make road safety top of your New Year’s resolutions — Noel Brett, Chief Executive, Road Safety Authority

Since the Road Safety Strategy 2007 to 2012 was introduced in 2007, road deaths have dropped by 50 per cent. When compared to the year before the introduction of the first ever road safety strategy in 1998, deaths have fallen by 59 per cent.

Welcoming the statistics at year end 2011, RSA chief executive Noel Brett states:

“Provisional road casualty figures for 2011 show that road deaths have fallen below 200 for the first time since road deaths have been recorded in 1959. Deaths have also fallen for their sixth consecutive year and this is the fourth year in a row where deaths have been a record low. A total of 186 people tragically lost their lives on the road in 2011. Our thoughts and prayers are with the devastated families, friends and communities. This is 26 fewer fatalities compared to 212 deaths last year and 52 fewer deaths compared to 2009 when 238 people lost their lives on the roads.

“The RSA pays tribute to the work of the Gardaí and Emergency Services. It is important as we come to the end of another year, that we acknowledge and thank those on the front line in tackling the aftermath of all too many collisions. The Gardaí, ambulance and paramedic crews, Fire Services personnel, nurses, doctors, and carers who are responsible for ensuring we stay safe on the roads and for caring for those who have been affected by road trauma.

“Undoubtedly, the real praise must go to individual road users. Thanks to you and your choice to make the right decisions, not to drink or take drugs and drive, to slow down, to wear seatbelts, to wear high visibility jackets while out walking or cycling, our communities have become safer places.”

The RSA head reported that Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Leo Varadkar, had also stated that motorists should be proud of their achievement.

“Safer motorists mean safer roads. People are alive today as a direct result of better driver behaviour,” Minister Varadkar said. “However, we must ensure that this good work continues, and I would ask all drivers to keep up the good work. For its part, the Government has made road safety a key priority. In the year gone by we have rolled out new drink driving levels and other significant measures. We will continue to launch new road safety measures in the years ahead, including the new plastic drivers’ licence, enhanced commercial vehicle roadworthiness testing, and the publication of legislation to provide for preliminary impairment testing of drug drivers at the roadside. We will also make preparations for new penalty points.”

Commenting on the release of the provisional figures Gay Byrne, chairman, Road Safety Authority, added: “By changing the way you use the road you have saved more lives this year, 26 to be exact. Indeed in the past decade over a thousand lives have been saved, the equivalent of the population of the town of Kilkee, Co Clare, real people, real lives saved.

“However, one death is one too many and for the 186 families who lost a loved one on the road this year my words of praise ring hollow. Out of respect to those who have died and those who have been left grieving I would ask that you all please use the roads in 2012 with greater care. Life is fragile, it’s held by the thinnest of threads and it only takes a split second for that lifeline to be severed. We run a real risk of complacency and I call on all Government departments and agencies to work collaboratively and proactively to ensure that we do not see a worsening in Ireland’s road safety performance in 2012. Now more that ever, we require action, leadership, and sustained effort. To do otherwise will lead to needless loss of life, horrific life altering injuries, and unimaginable devastation for families, communities and friends.”

Welcoming the record reduction in road fatalities, the Minister for Justice and Equality, Alan Shatter, said: “I very much welcome the record reduction in road traffic fatalities in 2011. Enormous progress has been made in making our roads safer. Having said that, every road death is a tragedy, and the Government is committed to building on the progress made. In 2012 the Garda Síochána will continue their focus on enforcement of road traffic legislation, which has contributed so much to the improvements we are seeing. Together with the other authorities, and with the cooperation of road users, the Garda Síochána will work towards making our roads safer and maintaining the excellent progress that has been made in saving lives and reducing injury.”

Reflecting on 2011 and looking forward to 2012, Assistant Garda Commissioner John Twomey, head of the Garda National Traffic Bureau, extended sympathy to the families of all those who lost their lives on our roads in recent years. He stated that the very positive improvement in the behaviour of road users has, along with other key factors, led to fewer people losing their lives each year. Commissioner Twomey thanked all members of An Garda Síochána, in particular the members of the Garda Traffic Corps, for their dedication, often in difficult circumstances. The Commissioner also expressed his gratitude to members of the community for their support and commitment to making Irish roads safer by adjusting behaviour and showing greater respect to others.

“The commitment of An Garda Síochána to enforcement and education will continue and we will use our positive working relationships with other agencies including the Road Safety Authority to ensure that a focused and harmonised approach will lead again in 2012 to improvements in road safety and the quality of everyone’s experience on our roads,” he said.

Looking to 2012, RSA chief, Noel Brett, said the priority for the Road Safety Authority will be to begin work on the development of a new road safety strategy.

“The current road safety strategy comes to an end in 2012. We will increase the focus on reducing the number and severity of injuries and try to sustain the reductions in deaths achieved over the last six years. In that task we need the public’s help and support. Please make road safety top of your New Year’s resolutions.”

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