Reduction in road deaths welcome
Following analysis of fatal collision reports supplied by An Garda Síochána, the Road Safety Authority (RSA) is claiming 2017 to have been the safest year for driving on Ireland's roads (in terms of fatalities) yet recorded.
The main headline is that road deaths decreased 15 per cent in 2017, compared to 2016, as 158 people died on Ireland's roads during the year in 143 fatal crashes. That stands up to 186 lives lost in 174 fatal crashes in 2016, representing 28 fewer fatalities and 31 fewer fatal crashes, itself a decrease of 18 per cent compared to 2016.
Not only that, but 2017 proved to be the safest year on Ireland's roads since road deaths were first recorded in 1959, improving on 2015 (with 162 deaths), which was previously the safest year on record.
Shane Ross, Minister for Transport and Tourism in Ireland, said: "It is very encouraging to see that we have reversed the upward trend in road deaths witnessed in 2016. The combined focus on improved legislation, greater enforcement and road safety campaigns all played their part in saving lives. But while it is heartening to see that 2017 was the lowest year on record for road deaths, this is not good enough. We need to continue our efforts if we are to achieve the objective of reducing fatalities to 124 by 2020. Ultimately our aim should be zero deaths on our roads."
The Minister added: "It's obvious that better road traffic legislation saves lives. A vital tool in helping to reduce deaths and injury further is the new Road Traffic Bill (Amendment) 2017. I implore all members of the Oireachtas to allow its unimpeded passage so that its life saving measures can be introduced without delay."
Liz O'Donnell, chairwoman of the RSA, said: "While one death is one too many, the only way we can measure success or failure in road safety is by recording the number of deaths on our roads. The drop in deaths in 2017 is a very welcome development. Whatever the reason for this decline, the main factor was ultimately as a result of the decision of every road user to change their behaviour for the better. For this, I thank you. However, my great concern is that this downward trend will not be sustained in 2018 and beyond. There must be a concerted effort on the part of Government, Government Departments, agencies and the public to continue to implement the measures in the Government's Road Safety Strategy."
Moyagh Murdock, chief executive of the RSA, welcomed the results of 2017, but urged caution for the years ahead, stating: "Ireland is still a long way off achieving its road safety targets as set out in the Government Road Safety Strategy 2013 to 2020. The strategy has set the task of making Ireland's roads as safe as the best performing countries in the European Union. Specifically, that means to reduce road fatalities on Irish roads to 124 or fewer by 2020. This means there must be a further 22 per cent reduction in road deaths, on 2017 figures, over the next three years. While this will be a challenging target to achieve given our mixed road safety performance since 2013, it's one that we must all strive to achieve through our continued efforts to implement the 144 road safety measures contained in the strategy."
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