Irish road deaths 'fall by 42%'


Ireland has one of the best records in the EU at reducing the number of road deaths in recent years, the European Commission in Dublin revealed today.

The Commission's Dublin office said Ireland achieved a 42 per cent reduction in road fatalities since 2005, against an EU average reduction over the period of 35 per cent.

The Commission attributed the fall in the numbers of road deaths in Ireland to strict enforcement of road safety legislation.

The figures were released as 12 new Irish organisations became signatories to the European Road Safety Charter. The charter is part of the EU Road Safety Action Plan, announced by the Irish presidency of the European Commission five years ago, to halve the number of deaths on European roads by 2010. At that time, 50,000 people lost their lives annually on the roads of Europe. The figure is now in the region of 33,000.

Irish signatories to the charter now number 48 and include the brain injury organisation Headway, and the Irish Road Road Haulage Association, along with Dublin City Council and the AA.

Recruiting new members which include companies, institutions, NGOs and local authorities in Ireland is a collaborative effort between the Department of Transport and the European Commission's services for Mobility. Each candidate organisation must put forward its own action plan of what it proposes to do as part of a formal commitment to road safety.

By April of 2010 more than 1,800 bodies across Europe had signed the charter as a response to the road safety problems they encounter in their daily work and lives.

AA spokesman Conor Faughnan said his organisation which signed up to the charter today was "very proud" to do so as it renewed "our commitment to making Irish roads safer. " He said the success of the Irish strategy was a result of "the efforts of many people and many agencies.

"The Government deserves credit for its commitment, but organisations like the AA have also played an important role in bringing a road safety message directly to its 200,000 members and to the motoring public," he said. "Above all, Irish motorists deserve credit for a huge improvement in driving standards. In renewing our commitment, we want to make sure that we do not lose momentum and that we continue the fight against this most brutal, sudden and devastating cause of so many Irish deaths and injuries."

Minister for Transport Noel Dempsey said the charter enabled business and local authorities, NGOs and lobby groups, to make a public commitment to continue reducing deaths on the roads, particularly amongst younger drivers.

Lord Mayor of Dublin Emer Costello said membership of the charter was a "cornerstone of commitment to providing a safe environment for all road users. In renewing our commitment today we can look back on the progress we have made and signal our immediate road safety objectives".

Martin Territt, director of the European Commission Representation in Ireland, said the figures showed a great improvement in road safety for Ireland. "Road safety is no accident - studies across Europe show us that strict enforcement of the rules really works, " he said.