Ireland up to 4th in EU road safety rankings despite rise in cycling deaths

Minister criticises ‘cynical filibustering’ of drink driving Bill in Dáil

A total of 157 people lost their lives on Ireland’s roads in 2017 compared to 186 in 2016. Photograph: iStock

A total of 157 people lost their lives on Ireland’s roads in 2017 compared to 186 in 2016. Photograph: iStock

 

Ireland moved to fourth place in the EU’s rankings for road safety last year, up one place on 2016, new figures show.

A total of 157 people lost their lives on Ireland’s roads in 2017 compared to 186 in 2016, a 16 per cent drop.

However, there was an increase in the number of pedal cyclists killed - from 10 in 2016 to 15 in 2017.

The 2017 Road Safety Performance Index was published by the European Transport Safety Council (ETSC).

It said the implementation of improved legislation, such as new drug driving laws, greater traffic law enforcement activities and road safety campaigns played a part in reducing the number of overall road deaths.

“The progress we made in 2017 which saw a reduction in both fatalities and serious injuries on our roads is to be welcomed, however... this is a gain that is too easily lost,” said Ms Moyagh Murdock, CEO of the Road Safety Authority.

She said that “Ireland is still a long way off achieving its road safety targets”.

There have been 14 deaths on Irish roads this June, bringing the total number so far this year to 76.

Moreover, the authority estimates that in recent years there is an annual average of 7,800 road traffic injuries on Irish roads.

Drink driving bill

Minister for Transport Shane Ross said recent initiatives and legislation have been key to reducing death and serious injuries on our roads.

“The Bill I am currently taking through the Oireachtas will build on these safety initiatives by ensuring that every person caught driving above the current alcohol limit will receive a disqualification”.

Mr Ross said the bill was “being seriously jeopardised by a very small cohort of politicians who are engaged in the most cynical form of filibustering.

“Meanwhile people are dying on our roads. I appeal to their humanity if not their political solidarity and ask them to please desist and allow this Bill to pass.”

The ETSC has set Ireland a target of a further 22 per cent reduction by 2020, which would mean 124 road deaths or fewer in that year.

The report notes An Garda Síochána “in their 2017 plan, committed to increase the number of road traffic police by 10 per cent annually until 2020, from 681 officers in 2017 to 997 in 2020”.

In the EU28, there were 6,500 fewer road deaths in 2017 than in 2010. However, this is below the 2020 road safety target of a constant year-to-year reduction of 6.7 per cent.

Norway and Sweden are the safest countries for road users while Romania and Bulgaria have the highest rate motoring mortality.

The 500 road deaths which take place in the EU weekly is equivalent to two typical passenger airliners crashing without any survivors, the report says.