Road deaths at new record low
A total of 186 people died on Irish roads last year, the lowest number since records began in 1959.
Deaths have also fallen for their sixth consecutive year, according to the Road Safety Authority. Last year was the fourth year in a row where deaths have been a record low.
A total of 212 people were killed in 2010, down from 238 the previous year, 279 in 2008 and 338 in 2007.
Road deaths have dropped by 50 per cent since the Road Safety Strategy 2007 to 2012 was introduced.
Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar said motorists should be proud of their achievement in reducing road deaths.
?Safer motorists mean safer roads. People are alive today as a direct result of better driver behaviour,? he said.
However, he warned against complacency and pledged Government backing for further road safety measures in the years ahead.
These will include a 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.
Road Safety Authority chairman Gay Byrne said over 1,000 lives have been saved in the past decade.
?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,? he said. ?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.?
Minister for Justice Alan Shatter said the Garda will continue to focus on enforcement of road traffic legislation next year.
RSA chief executive Noel Brett said that the priority for the authority will be to begin work on the development of a new Road Safety Strategy. ?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,? he said. ?There is absolutely no reason why Ireland cannot be the very safest country in the EU.?