The Road Safety Authority (RSA ), An Garda Siochana, the Department of Transport, and road safety officers the country wide should be commended for their successful efforts in reducing the number of road fatalities in Ireland. The results have been staggering and far beyond the targets set.
The number of road deaths fell from 186 in 2011 to 161 over the last year (2012 ), 25 fewer fatalities compared to 2011 and 51 fewer than in 2010.
What we can never forget are the families and friends left behind to grieve the sudden and untimely passing of their loved ones and the hundreds of others who weren’t fatally injured on our roads but who sustained life changing and often devastating injuries.
The public also have a role to play whether it’s actively slowing down, checking car equipment before a journey, wearing reflective clothing when walking or cycling, and in general putting road safety to the fore when they use the country’s 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.
When it comes to Garda monitoring and controls, there was an increase in Garda mandatory alcohol checkpoints in 2012 compared to 2011 and the force are noticing significant reductions in detections. In 2007 the detection rate was approximately one in 25, now it’s approximately one in 50.
So it’s bualadh bos to all involved. The aim now is to ensure the number of deaths continue to decline.
What the Government now, most urgently, must focus on, is the sharp increase in suicides. While the figures for the number of recorded suicides in Ireland in 2012 have not yet been released, it is expected that that figure will be way above 500 yet again, over three and a half times the amount of people who are dying on the roads and not including those who are self-harming.
In 2011 there were 525 registered suicides in Ireland, up seven per cent from 2010, the majority of whom were males. Research shows that men are four times more likely to take their own lives than women and three times more likely to die by a road fatality.
According to the Health Service Executive (HSE ) men in their early twenties and women in their early fifties are most at risk of suicide. The Association of Suicidology also tell us that for every one per cent increase in unemployment there is a corresponding 0.78 per cent increase in suicide.
Sheer coincidence? Hardly.
And the National Suicide Research Foundation also says that the sharp increase in suicide is linked to the recession. A study conduced by the foundation also found that people who are unemployed are two to three times more likely to take their own lives than people in employment.
The facts are startling and a base upon which direct Government action must be taken in 2013 to curb this unnecessary loss of life.
In the past health funding specifically targeted for mental health services was spent elsewhere and it is imperative that this never happens again. The Government have a huge responsibility to directly address the situation in a manner in which they tackled the road death crisis.