Speed cameras a key factor in road deaths fall, says Garda chief

 

A SHARP decline in people being killed or seriously injured on the roads in recent weeks has been attributed to the introduction of new speed cameras.

The number of people killed from when the cameras were introduced on November 16th to Monday last fell from 27 in 2009 to eight this year, according to Asst Garda Commissioner John Twomey

He said there had also been a reduction in the number of serious injuries from 53 to 19 over the period. “If you combine the two it is a reduction of 51 in the numbers killed or seriously injured since the introduction of speed cameras,” he added.

Even allowing for the recent bad weather, he said the fatalities had fallen from 22 to six over the comparable period excluding the cold spell.

The assistant commissioner was speaking at the launch of the annual Christmas road safety campaign at which President Mary McAleese asked drivers to heed the advice of those already “maimed”. Having listened to Siobhán O’Brien from Co Louth, who recounted how she suffered brain injuries, the president said it was shocking that records showed 22,882 people have died and 66,773 have suffered serious life-changing injuries.

Chairman of the Road Safety Authority Gay Byrne said the launch was about the “forgotten victims” of road collisions – those who have been seriously injured and their families now coming to terms with life-changing injuries.

“For every death on EU roads, there are at least eight serious injuries ranging from severe brain damage, lifelong disablement and spinal cord injuries . . . for these people and their families life will never ever be the same,” he said.

Garda Commissioner Fachtna Murphy said the aim of this year’s road safety campaign was to not to catch people, but to stop them endangering themselves and others. However, he said in order to facilitate this gardaí would be using “targeted operations”, guided by information from officers locally.

Road collisions accounted for 205 deaths from January 1st up to yesterday morning, compared to 232 deaths to the same date in 2009. This represents a 12 per cent decline.

CRASHED LIVES PERSONAL STORIES

“I can never accept this, never,” said 32-year-old Siobhán O’Brien of the split second which changed her life. In a personal account of her crash to be aired in the “Crashed Lives” series of television commercials, Siobhán, of Stabannon, Co Louth, said she was working as a social worker when she was in a collision with a lorry.

She suffered brain damage and now uses a wheelchair. She told President Mary McAleese she had been one day away from receiving her Master’s degree, but the “split second” changed her life forever and she now finds ordinary things such as shopping extremely difficult. Siobhán’s experience is echoed in the words of another affected person, Marjorie Flood – “I can’t make peace with this” – who is a family member of a person killed.

In her account of how her life was changed, also to be aired as part of the Road Safety Authority campaign, Marjorie recounts how her son Mark (19) lost his life while walking on a road after a night outin Dunshaughlin, Co Meath. The ease with which the incident could have been avoided had deeply affected her, and now there was just “nothing” and Mark would never again walk through the door.